Siriraj Hospital trials 5G driverless vehicle for new medical era


The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) today (June 25) announced it had joined with Siriraj Hospital and Huawei Technologies (Thailand) to pioneer the use of 5G-powered unmanned vehicles in Thai healthcare.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said the self-driving vehicle takes advantage of Huawei’s 5G technology to offer contactless delivery of medical supplies.
The “Unmanned Vehicle Pilot Project Driving Thai Healthcare to the 5G Era” will enable the NBTC to evaluate the benefits and efficiency of the vehicle before putting it to different uses in other hospitals across Thailand.
The pilot project is designed to push the Thai medical system into the 5G era by applying world-class technology and innovation to drive medical services and the healthcare industry.
Such technology can replace manpower in logistics since it operates in complex environments within Siriraj Hospital. The autonomous car offers safe, convenient and cost-effective solutions while reducing the workload of healthcare workers and improving patient safety. 5G technology will be progressively applied in the national health system to boost the transition to “smart hospitals” in the near future.
“The NBTC has been utilising 5G technology at community hospitals and large local hospitals to pilot remote treatment of four health conditions – eye diseases, skin diseases, blood pressure abnormalities and diabetes," Takorn added.
"Moreover, remote medical care has also expanded to local prisons, namely Khao Bin Central Prison and Ratchaburi Central Prison in Ratchaburi province, to give easier medical access to people and prisoners in remote areas. The ongoing NBTC projects aim to drive greater benefits from 5G innovation into different aspects of life across the country.
“Thailand has the advantages of a successful 5G auction and of being a 5G leader in Asean. The NBTC recognises these competitive advantages and is promoting integration of 5G technology in different sectors to close the digital divide in the country. This will prepare Thailand for a digital transformation that drives our daily life, work and manufacturing forward,” said Takorn.
Prof Dr Prasit Watanapa, dean of Siriraj Hospital’s Faculty of Medicine, Mahidol University, said: “As a result of the Covid-19 situation, the safety of patients and medical workers must be prioritised, including effective use of resources.
“Siriraj Hospital places importance on taking full advantage of digital technology in order to holistically increase the efficiency of medical services and operations. The 5G vehicle pilot project will enhance the central logistics system within the hospital.
“At the initial stage, it will be used to transport and distribute medicines for contactless delivery which will help reduce workload and infection risks of frontline workers. This is another important step to improve the quality of healthcare services for long-term development and sustainability.”
Abel Deng, CEO of Huawei Technologies (Thailand), added: “As a global leading company in technology, Huawei is honoured and delighted to continuously take part in assisting Thai medical staff. The pilot project … will operate under Huawei’s 5G technology to help transport medical supplies within the hospital."
It exemplifies the accelerated digitalisation of Thailand’s medical services, as 5G will play a key role in the next generation of healthcare, he added.
5G applications in the domain of public health could also inspire businesses in other sectors to leverage 5G's popularity and explore new applications of the technology, he said.
Most significantly, 5G technology will be the key driving force in the Thai economy’s recovery and power new economic and societal growth for the country in every aspect, he added.