iRobot is taking its Ava robot platform and bringing it into the healthcare space, partnering with InTouch to announce the RP-VITA, which as you'd expect is a clever acronym: "Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant." Since the RP-VITA utilizes the same mobility platform that we've seen on the Ava, it's able to traverse the halls of a hospital without crashing into walls or people. As a telepresence robot, it's designed to allow doctors to check in on patients remotely. It therefore provides access to some diagnostic devices like ultrasound machines, and it also has an electronic stethoscope built-in. Finally, InTouch Health's "Telemedicine" system allows for access to patient records.
The RP-VTIA can be controlled with an iPad app and though movement needs to be controlled manually for now, the companies have submitted a request to the FDA to approve autonomous navigation. That would allow a user to just tap on a patient's room number, for example, and the RP-VITA would get there on its own. iRobot hopes to gain approval for the new feature by Q4 2012. We can't say for sure how the FDA will rule, but if the Ava can make its way through The Verge's CES trailer, your average hospital should be a snap.