Meet RP-VITA, the robot that connects your doctor from anywhere

What does the future of health care hold? Judging by iRobot's booth at CES, it's robot nurses.

RP-VITA, short for Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant, is a collaborative product between the robotics company and InTouch Health. It's designed to extend a doctor's bedside manner to anywhere in the world — even during an emergency call while vacationing at the Bahamas.

We first caught wind of RP-VITA when it was unveiled last summer, but it's great to see this thing up close now that it's launched at CES. Since RP-VITA uses iRobot's autonomous navigation technology and InTouch Health's telemedicine system, it's easy to characterize the 'bot as a tablet on a tall Roomba. Yet because the telepresence robot can see using its camera and Obstacle Detection Obstacle Avoidance sensors, its movement is much smarter than iRobot's catalog of cleaning robots, automatically avoiding obstacles — without ramming into them first.

When the robot has a digital map of its environment, it will also find alternate routes if a given path is blocked by something, such as a gurney. RP-VITA can also be programmed to learn not to go into set no-go zones, and administrators can even set speed limits to avoid hazardous hallway situations.

Doctors are given real-time access to data, such as a patient's vitals, through an iPad app. RP-VITA is also equipped with diagnostic tools, such as a stethoscope, otoscopes and ultrasound, so a nurse can remotely provide additional information to physicians.

Check out a demo of RP-VITA in our video below as well as iRobot's product lineup at CES in the photo gallery.

Posted on location at CES 2013 in Las Vegas.

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