A hospital has bought a fleet of 26 robots with their own network of underground tunnels to carry supplies.
They will be used to move medical equipment, linen, food and waste around the £842 million South Glasgow University Hospital when it opens on April 27.
The £1.3 million fleet of futuristic drones – known as automated guided vehicles (AGVs) – have their own dedicated lift at the 14-storey hospital.
Jim Magee, who is in charge of the AGVs, said they will be a massive asset to the campus.
He said: ‘Some people have been a little wary around them, unsure how to react, but they will get used to them in time.
‘The technology is brilliant. For example, the AGVs will return themselves to a charging station if their power is running low.
‘They also have an exclusive lift system which allows them to move from floor to floor. The robots will even recognise if a human gets into their lift and won’t move until they get out.’
A demonstration of the drones in action confirms just how precisely the Swiss-made automatons go about their work.
Three robots sit in a line at specially designated points around the hospital at all times, waiting to be called into action.
Once one moves from the front of the rank, another automatically takes its place from the nearest charging station.
At a loading bay where goods including kitchen materials, linen and medical supplies are delivered, the robots pick up their cargo, call a lift and head for the appropriate floor.
Speeding up where there’s no risk of collision, the AGVs move rapidly to another docking station, scanning for obstacles.
Having parked themselves with minute precision, they then roll off and await the next task.
In addition to running the futuristic helpers, Jim also has responsibility for the helipad, 250 staff, and mile after mile of a pneumatic tube system that will be used to fire medical notes, samples and medicines around the world-class facility in an instant.
‘It’s a very exciting time to be getting our hands on the new kit,’ said Jim, right, who has been with the NHS for 25 years.
‘I’ve been involved in the planning for two years, and nothing has been left to chance.’
The first patients are due to be moved to the new £842 million hospital on April 27.
At full capacity there will be 10,561 staff, 1,109 en-suite patient rooms in the adult hospital, and 244 beds in the adjacent Royal Hospital for Sick Children.
The new facility campus is being built on the site of the old Southern General Hospital in the Govan area of the city.
Facility Supervisor Billy MacDonald, above, who also has 25 years’ experience with the NHS, said: ‘The AGVs will help make things run efficiently and smoothly.
‘Watching them go about their work is hugely impressive and they don’t ask for holidays of course.
‘Having been based at the Southern General for my career, I’ve watched the new facility rise up from nothing. We are now on the verge of a great new chapter.’
Last week, fears were raised a new breed of robots could put millions of factory workers out of jobs.
Robots now perform 10% of manufacturing tasks but that is due to soar to 25% by 2025 as the cost of making robots falls.
There are now even robot bartenders, waiters and ‘humanoid’ ‘bots that can climb stairs.