‘The death ray was optional’ – what public-service robots looked like in 90s

Written by Sam Trendall on 31 May 2018 in News
News

Hospital shines a light on long-forgotten tale of its ‘most unusual employee’

Credit: CC BY 2.0

A hospital in north-west London has lifted the lid on the long-forgotten story of Jeeves – a short-lived robot employee formerly used to carry medical notes and blood samples.

In the mid-1990s Northwick Park Hospital put Jeeves the robot (pictured right) to work. The automaton had already been rolled out in more than 50 hospitals in the US and was employed on this side of the pond “to carry out mundane but avoidable tasks”, Northwick Park said.

The droid – which had its own ID badge – was pre-programmed with a map of the hospital’s corridors, and was principally tasked with transporting notes and blood samples.

“Jeeves… moved at a slow walking speed and immediately stopped if obstructed, before making a polite request for people to step aside,” the hospital added. “The death ray was obviously an optional extra.”

The robot did not pass muster during a six-month probation period and, for the last 20 years, nothing more has been heard of the five-foot-tall machine – until its story was uncovered by Northwick Park in the course of searching for material to include in the hospital’s celebrations of the NHS’s 70th birthday, which will take place this summer.

The hospital concluded: “Rust in peace, Jeeves.”

 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

Share this page

Tags

Categories

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Why box-ticking won’t help the NHS achieve our 10-year plan for digital
13 March 2019

Sam Shah, director for digital development at NHS England, discusses how single-problem healthtech solutions do not align with the wider health technology vision

How Leeds is improving care by breaking out of 'NHS-only systems'
8 March 2019

Leeds digital chief Dylan Roberts tells Gill Hitchcock about how the city is joining up records and trying to help 10,000 Loiners get online each year

Related Sponsored Articles

Why BT UniCORN Framework – Join the partnership to cut costs and create opportunities
11 February 2019

Whether you need mobile devices or fibre optics, cloud services or switchboard systems, with UniCORN you'll have more purchasing power and unlock benefits you wouldn't get alone