(BOSTON, Mass. – April 26, 2011) — Whimsical-looking robots are delivering food and lots of smiles at Children’s Hospital Boston.

Resembling large toy trains, six robots are delivering meals to patient floors throughout the facility. The robots – called TUGs – are provided by Pittsburgh-based Aethon, the nation’s leading provider of mobile, self-guided robots to hospitals. TUGs can be found in hospitals across the country, but Children’s Hospital Boston is the first hospital in New England to implement the specially designed “train” version of the robots.


The idea of fashioning the robots to look like toy trains came from a child undergoing treatment for leukemia in San Francisco whose wish was to have his medications delivered by a robot. The local Make-a-Wish Foundation chapter created a connection between the child and Aethon to develop the train-like facade for his robot. The boy helped create the train design and in the process helped Aethon to understand that robots can be about much more than efficiency in hospitals. The initial launch was such a success, Aethon decided to add the train TUG to its product catalog and make a donation to the San Francisco/Greater Bay Area Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation each time one of them debuts at a hospital anywhere in the country.

“In addition to looking cute and delighting our patients, the TUG robots serve an important role in delivering food to our nursing floors,” said Shawn Goldrick director of patient support services for Children’s Hospital Boston. “Our food service professionals are now able to remain on the floors supporting patients’ food service needs, allowing nurses to spend more time providing hands-on patient care. We love the fact that we are able to accomplish something so functional while also bringing smiles to patients’ faces.”

“Children’s Hospital Boston has incredible vision for how Aethon’s robots can augment and support their existing resources, allowing clinical staff to focus on what’s most important: patient care,” said Aldo Zini, Aethon’s president and CEO. “The TUGs also represent a great opportunity to integrate the efforts of two of the hospital’s partners – Sodexho, which operates food services, and Aethon, which is installing its TUGs to automate transportation in other departments in the hospital.”

Aethon’s robots have dependably and affordably automated the logistics process in hospitals, enabling hospitals to deliver, track and retrieve medications, supplies, meals and equipment throughout the facility to increase productivity, enhance safety, and improve healthcare efficiency and patient care.

About Aethon

Aethon is a leader in healthcare supply chain logistics, chain-of-command, and workflow solutions that automate the movement of equipment and supplies throughout the hospital. At the core of Aethon’s solution is a proprietary autonomous mobile robot, known as the TUG, which can be used to deliver, track and retrieve medications, supplies, meals, equipment and more. TUGs improve asset utilization, ensure regulatory compliance, reduce costs, enhance clinical productivity, improve workflow and allow clinicians to focus on patient care. Hospitals using TUGs realize an ROI of 20 to 50 percent, while improving nurse and patient satisfaction. More information is available at www.aethon.com.

About Children’s Hospital Boston

Founded in 1869 as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children’s Hospital Boston today is one of the nation’s leading pediatric medical centers, the primary pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, and the largest provider of health care to Massachusetts children. In addition to 395 pediatric and adolescent inpatient beds and more than 100 outpatient programs, Children’s houses the world’s largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries benefit both children and adults. More than 1,100 scientists, including nine members of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 members of the Institute of Medicine, and 13 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children’s research community. For more information about the hospital visit: www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom.