Robots that deliver medication and supplies could lead to more one-on-one time with doctors.

An example of a “TUG unit” featured on Aethon’s website. (Photo courtesy of Aethon)

An example of a “TUG unit” featured on Aethon’s website. (Photo courtesy of Aethon)

Patients receiving treatment at a hospital in the Bay Area will no longer have to wait on a nurse to deliver medication. Now, a robot can bring it right to their bedside.

More than two-dozen autonomous robots joined the staff at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center on Sunday. But the clunky robot won’t diagnose illnesses or listen to heartbeats. They’re taking on more menial tasks, including meal delivery and transporting lab samples. Instead of replacing medical professionals, they’ll allow for more time to focus on patients instead of running around changing bed sheets.

“We want to use technology in a way that frees up our human providers to do what they’re good at, which is to focus on our patients,” associate chief medical officer Dr. Seth Bokser told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Aethon, the company that created the tireless robots, designed them to do just that. Equipped with an onboard map that allows them to seamlessly navigate the hospital halls, these “TUG units” travel roughly 12 miles each day. Carefully moving around staff and patients, the machines can open doors and elevators. The units are programmed to deliver to their intended recipient, and those containing pharmaceuticals or blood samples require fingerprints or pin codes for entry.

As if robots weren’t enough, this high-tech facility also used its $50 million technology budget to create a staff communication system via Voalte and equipped short-term care rooms with individual tablets. Also able to connect to a large TV screen, patients use the tablet to communicate with staff, order meals and even view test results. In the meantime, they can stream movies while waiting for their robot to bring in lunch.