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Aethon Enhances TUG Navigation System with Advanced Laser Vision Technology
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Mar 16, 2008
More Design and Development stories
Aethon, Inc., a leader in affordable autonomous mobile robots for healthcare supply chain management, today announced that it has significantly enhanced the navigation system of its TUG(R) robotics platform with the addition of laser-based technology. The new laser-driven navigation system will enable hospitals to deploy TUGs in less time and benefit from speedier deliveries, more flexible routes and requires less technical support.

“Aethon got TUG up and running at the Monongahela Valley Hospital (MVH) in no time,” said Lauren Altemara, director, Medical Records at MVH, a 226-bed, full-service healthcare facility located in Carroll Township, Pa. “We didn’t have to spend two weeks mapping the hospital beforehand, and with the new laser-based navigation system, the TUG has no problem finding its way through our crowded lobby to the elevator bank.”

The Aethon TUG is an autonomous mobile robotic system that automates the delivery and tracking of materials in hospitals such as medications, dietary trays, linens, blood samples, medical records, or IV pumps. It helps hospitals streamline supply chain operations so that nurses and clinical staff avoid making supply runs and remain focused on patient care. The enhanced navigation system further improves TUG performance to meet the needs of hospital staff. Its benefits include:

Rapid deployment-- Since the new laser-based TUG can read pre-existing hospital CAD maps, implementation time can be slashed by weeks.

Faster, more flexible delivery-- The new laser vision technology complements the existing infrared and ultra sonic sensor components of the TUG’s navigation system to provide a more detailed and farther view as the TUG moves about the hospital. Increased sensing accuracy and obstacle detection capabilities means the TUG can move up to 33 percent faster and better navigate open, busy spaces, such as hospital atriums or lobbies, in addition to narrow corridors and elevators.

Less technical support-- The navigation system’s combined laser, infrared and sonar capabilities enable the TUG to quickly and adeptly respond with 99-percent accuracy to the challenges of autonomous navigation within complex and changing hospital interiors. As a result, it requires less technical support and intervention.

Faster troubleshooting-- The laser technology also adds enhanced imaging capabilities that allow TUGs to send pictures back to the Aethon help desk so that more situations can be remotely analyzed and resolved quicker.

“Just as human mobility draws on multiple senses--from sight, to hearing and touch--our autonomous mobile robots now have a more complete set of resources--laser, infrared and sonar technology--to guide them through their hospital environment,” said Barry Skirble, CIO, Aethon. “As a result, Aethon is able to deliver higher performance supply chain solutions to our hospital customers.”

Independent case studies of the TUG have validated significant increases in productivity and staff satisfaction, while saving hospitals hard dollars and improving service levels. At the University of Maryland Medical Center, a TUG reduced pharmacy cycle time from 73 to 30 minutes, which resulted in improving nursing satisfaction by 23 percent. “The patients are getting the medications sooner,” according to Marc Summerfield, director of Pharmacy. “Our physicians and the nurses are satisfied and the support from Aethon has been excellent. It’s really been a win-win for everyone.”

About Aethon
Based in Pittsburgh, Pa., Aethon is a leader in affordable, autonomous mobile robots for practical business applications. In healthcare, the company’s automated technology platform is redefining hospital supply chain logistics by automating the location, delivery and recovery of key assets. The net result of Aethon’s low-cost, easy-to-install, RFID-based asset utilization solution is improved caregiver efficiency and satisfaction, increased asset utilization, decreased equipment rentals, increased patient safety and satisfaction, and improved regulatory compliance. More than 100 hospitals nationwide have deployed Aethon’s robots. Aethon is a privately held, venture-backed company. It has raised $22.5 million from Innovation Works, Draper Triangle Ventures, Salix Ventures, Ascension Health Ventures and Pacific Venture Group, among others. For more information, visit

Joe Costa
P:  412-322-2975

Anne Lundregan/Caitlin Hunt
Schwartz Communications
P:  781-684-0770

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