Researchers from Swinburne University of Technology have invented a robotic prototype aimed at helping medical staff automate blood donation processing.

The university researchers, led by Dr Shanti Krishnan, deputy director of the Swinburne Factory of the Future, have come up with a proof-of-concept designed to automate the folding and loading process of whole blood collection packs.

According to the researchers, the process involves separating whole blood donations into its cellular components through centrifugation, a process that involves spinning each blood pack at high speed in a solution via a centrifuge rotor. To perform this, the blood pack needs to be folded in a specific manner to prevent any bacterial contamination potentially caused by human error.

The robot performs a suction motion to move the blood packs before they are folded. Aided by four cameras that monitor the work area, ensure complete labels and correct bag alignment, the process is then successfully completed. The system is also able to alert an operator for any errors detected.

The researchers said they are now looking at improving the speed of the robot, which presently operates slower than if a person does the process from end-to-end. Furthermore, the researchers added that the robot has strong potential to be used in industries other than healthcare.