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Auckland lab heralds NZ healthcare robotics

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Research Science and Technology

19 August 2008
Embargoed until 6.00 pm Media Release

Auckland lab heralds NZ healthcare robotics

The new robotics laboratory in Auckland heralds healthcare robotics in New Zealand according to the Minister of Research, Science and Technology and Economic Development, Pete Hodgson.

Pete Hodgson experienced first hand the advances in robotic technology when he had his blood pressure taken by a robot at the launch today. “This is an exciting new era in healthcare. It will free up health professionals’ time to attend to other patient matters and has the potential to bring huge economic and social benefits for New Zealand,” he said.

The Joint Laboratory for u-Healthcare Robotics (the Laboratory) is a joint venture between the University of Auckland and the Korean Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI).

“By combining our two countries’ strengths, New Zealand’s software design and Korea’s strength in robotic technology and production, we can build a global market in robotic healthcare for both our countries.”

The laboratory will use the existing Korean robot technology to customise it for the needs of medical professionals in western countries, including New Zealand.

Robots currently on the global market include nurse assistants, medication deliverers and even social companions in hospitals. The market for these types of products is estimated to be worth several billion US dollars and New Zealand firms alone may capture several hundred million dollars.

“The University of Auckland already has expertise in robot programming, emotion recognition, psychological and clinical evaluation, healthcare informatics, wireless transmission and speech communication. This joint venture will give us the resources and technology we need to commercialise this expertise through robotic production,” said Pete Hodgson.

Governments of both countries are contributing a total of $5.5 million to the laboratory. New Zealand’s contribution comes from the International Investment Opportunities Fund through Vote RS&T.


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