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A Scottish hospital will become the first in the UK to use robots to clean, deliver food and dispense drugs.

The Forth Valley Royal Hospital's fleet of bots will also be carrying clinical waste and cleaning operating theatres when the new £300m Stirlingshire hospital opens in August.

The robot squad will move around via their own dedicated network of corridors beneath the hospital. Staff will use hand-held PDA's to call the machines to move meal trays or bed linen.

A BBC reporter who's seen the machines in action describes the cleaning and porter robots as looking like a forklift truck with with "a rotating laser beam, which it uses to find its way around".

The lasers tell the robots exactly where they are. Sensors open doors and detect obstacles or people in their way. Different machines are used for different tasks, such as cleaning or portering, to avoid transferring infection. They will use different lifts to get around.

The robot team is currently undergoing final tests. At least one human will be on standby in case of a breakdown.

Service company Serco is supplying the robots as part of what is described as a “Soft FM services” contract.

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