Would you let a robot draw your blood? Perhaps in the future, you'll be able to choose an mechanical phlebotomist over a human one.
A California-based startup is trying to build a robot that is able to find a vein and draw blood on its own, IEEE Spectrum reports. The robot's makers hope it could speed things during clinical trials for drugs, which may require dozens of blood draws.
The robot, named Veebot, is about as accurate as a trained human. Its creators want it to be more accurate than humans before they try to enter it into clinical trials. Once they make their technical improvements, they'll have to find funding for those trials. All in all, it may be many years yet before Veebot gets to work in hospitals.
Nevertheless, Spectrum has made a video of Veebot at work on real humans. (Perhaps its own makers?)
Check out the Spectrum article for a description of how Veebot uses a combination of infrared light, ultrasound and machine learning to find the right vein.
Finding volunteers for that beta test must have been interesting
Certainly seems slow at this point. not to mention cumbersome.
Possibly that can be fixed.
What might prove more troublesome is the variability of people's veins. Many people have 'rolling veins' -- they slide away as the needle is pressed home. Many professionals have some amount of trouble with them. The machine may have problems with that.
Not to mention that people's skin gets more frail as they age -- and we are an aging society. It will be critical that the machine doesn't damage anything.