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Toy "Train" Delivers Meals

Toy "Train" Delivers Meals

Robotic meal delivery system entertains Boston Children's Hospital patients.

Young patients at Children's Hospital Boston are treated to the sight of a working toy “train” delivering their meals each day. The vehicles, called TUGS, are actually standard mobile, self-guided robots like the ones used by hospitals all across the country to deliver meals, supplies and laundry. But at CHB, six of the units have been outfitted by supplier Aethon with colorful facades to make them look like toy trains — to the delight of sick children.

The idea of fashioning the robots to look like toy trains came from a child undergoing treatment for leukemia in San Francisco, whose wish was to have his medications delivered by a robot. The local Make-a-Wish Foundation chapter created a connection between the child and Aethon to develop the train-like facade for his robot. The boy actually helped create the train design.

“In addition to looking cute and delighting our patients, the TUG robots serve an important role in delivering food to our nursing floors,” notes Shawn Goldrick director of patient support services for CHB.

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