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30 Best CEOs of the Year 2021

Spearheaded by Andrea Thomaz, Diligent Robotics, an A.I. company, is passionate about building robot assistants that melds the human and robotic sides of clinical care

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One kind of robot has endured for the last half-century: the hulking one-armed Goliaths that dominate industrial assembly lines. These industrial robots have been task-specific -- built to spot weld, say, or add threads to the end of a pipe. They aren't sexy, but in the latter half of the 20th century they transformed industrial manufacturing and, with it, the low- and medium-skilled labor landscape in much of the US, Asia, and Europe. You've probably been hearing a lot more about robots and robotics over the last couple years. That's because, for the first time since the 1961 debut of GM's Unimate, regarded as the first industrial robot, the field is once again transforming world economies. Only this time the impact is going to be broader. That's particularly true in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has helped advance automation adoption across a variety of industries as manufacturers, fulfillment centers, retail, and restaurants seek to create durable, hygienic operations that can withstand evolving disruptions and regulations. More and more, robots are cropping up in offices, hospitals, and schools -- decidedly non-industrial environments -- as well as in warehouses, fulfillment centers, and small manufacturing centers. More and more, they are on our roads and flying overhead. And that's just to name a few spheres in which robots are rapidly gaining traction by doing work more efficiently, reliably, with fewer labor disruptions, and for less money than previously possible. Diligent Robotics is a human-centered robotics company.

 The company’s mission is to make technical advances towards robots and humans working together side by side, with an emphasis on human-centric design. Diligent Robotics is developing a suite of artificial intelligence that enables robots to collaborate with and adapt to humans in everyday environments. Diligent Robotics’ service robots are designed to participate and work together with teams of humans. The company’s first product is a hospital service robot that can assist clinical staff with logistical tasks, allowing them to spend more of their time on direct patient care, improving patient satisfaction, quality of service, and safety. Burnout in the healthcare industry feels inevitable. Currently, nurses face significant physical, mental and emotional challenges in increasingly overburdened work environments. The average turnover rate for Registered Nurses (RNs) in hospitals hovers around 20 percent within their first year in the field.

People + Technology

Clinical staff spends a reported average of 30 percent of their time on non-care activities like gathering medical supplies or restocking supply rooms. Staff clock up to eight to ten miles a day running back and forth to supply rooms, further diverting them from direct patient care. The top five things that nurses wish they had more time for include: emotional support, education, care coordination and discharge planning, care planning, and timeliness of care. With the ongoing complexities of attending to the changing conditions of patients combined with the demanding back-end tasks expected in healthcare shift work, there’s less and less time for meaningful face to face contact with patients. But with the right help, this can change. Enter AI. To address these types of cognitive overloads many industries face, the company’s focus has been to utilize technology that learns, adapts and has limitless potential. We need to utilize the technology that has the power to not just create something new, but address something existing. And utilize the one that has the power to work with everyday people to address an existing problem or inefficiency.

Moxi

Moxi supports clinical staff by augmenting logistical tasks that limit valuable patient care time. By executing non-patient facing, logistical tasks that clinical teams are responsible for, Moxi creates a more efficient and thoughtful environment allowing for better patient care. As a friendly, sensitive and intuitive robot, Moxi not only alleviates clinical staff of routine tasks but does so in a non-threatening and supportive way that encourages positive relationships between humans and robots, further enhancing clinical staff’s ability to and interest in leveraging AI in the healthcare industry.

Meet the leader behind the success of Diligent Robotics

Andrea Thomaz is the CEO and Co-Founder of Diligent Robotics and a renowned social robotics expert. Her accolades include being recognized by the National Academy of Science as a Kavli Fellow, the US President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Tech, MIT Technology Review on its Next Generation of 35 Innovators Under 35 list, Popular Science on its Brilliant 10 list, TEDx as a featured keynote speaker on social robotics and Texas Monthly on its Most Powerful Texans of 2018 list. Andrea’s robots have been featured in the New York Times and on the covers of MIT Technology Review and Popular Science. Her passion for social robotics began during her work at the MIT Media Lab, where she focused on using AI to develop machines that address everyday human needs. Andrea co-founded Diligent Robotics to pursue her vision of creating socially intelligent robot assistants that collaborate with humans by doing their chores so humans can have more time for the work they care most about. She earned her Ph.D. from MIT and B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UT Austin, and was a Robotics Professor at UT Austin and Georgia Tech (where she directed the Socially Intelligent Machines Lab).

“At Diligent Robotics, we design and build robots like Moxi that assist clinical staff with routine activities so they can focus on caring for patients.”