They resemble drones from a science fiction movie.


But these mini-robots are in fact the behind the scenes stars of the new £842 million South Glasgow University Hospital.

Patients will see little of the motorised workers, which will see 26 robots assist staff in their duties.

Costing £50,000 each, the fleet are being used to move medical equipment, linen, food and waste around the vast site which begins opening on Monday.

The £1.3m Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to give them their full title, are10 inches high and are capable of lifting up to half a tonne at a time.

The self-operating vehicles come to life when a member of staff has scanned a trolley or cage to be picked up. The AVGs then track their target as they make their way through the hospital, using their own dedicated lifts in the 14 storey complex.

Once an AVG has completed it's task it then returns to the charge docking station where it can be fully charged in 30 minutes- all without any input from a human.

When one moves from the front of the rank, another automatically takes its place from the nearest charging station.

At a loading bay where goods including kitchen materials, linen and medical supplies are delivered, the robots pick up their cargo, call a lift and head for the appropriate floor.

A NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesperson said: "They robots are fully geared up and ready for operation. We've had them for four weeks now and they are already in use around the hospital.

"The use of the robots will free up valuable time for porters to undertake important duties such as moving patients."

The intelligent robots will adjust their speed depending on the width of the corridor and if any one is in close proximity. They have lights which will allow them to be easily seen and are able to give verbal warning if they are approaching people.

The South Glasgow University Hospital will take over from four of Glasgow's other hospitals- the Southern General, the Victoria Infirmary, Western Infirmary and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children (Yorkhill)- which are currently in the process of transferring their, equipment, staff and patients to the new hospital.

The move means NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will have to move around 1000 patients and 10,000 staff during the transition which is expected to be completed by mid June.

The hospital will be one of Europe's largest hospital complexes when it is up and running.