Paging Dr. Robot? RP-VITA provides virtual bedside diagnosis

The latest creation from Bedford, Mass., company iRobot is a 5-foot-4-inch, remotely controlled, physician on wheels named "RP-VITA." It's expected to be in hospitals across the country by the end of the year. WBZ News' Lisa Hughes reports.

(CBS News) The latest advancement in medical care might be wheeling its way to a hospital near you.

CBS station WBZ in Boston reports that iRobot, based in Bedford, Mass., has created a new robot called RP-VITA that's essentially a doctor on wheels.

"Getting the right specialist to see the patient in a very short amount of time can make the difference between life and death," Glen Weinstein of iRobot told the station. Cue the robotic physician.

iRobot is known for making products ranging from the robotic Roomba vacuum to roving robots used by soldiers in combat to scout unknown dangers such as IEDs.

For the new device, iRobot teamed up with InTouch Health to develop a 5-foot-4, remotely controlled, physician on wheels that can navigate through crowded hospitals.

On the top of the robot is a large clear HD screen showing a (human) doctor's face.

"(The doctor's face) is the most reassuring thing a patient can see," Weinstein told WBZ.

The robot can be paired with other medical devices, like an ultrasound or stethoscope (as seen in the video) and the doctor in a separate location can glean instant health updates from the robots' tests.

It can also wheel its way through hospital lobbies and exam rooms, distinguishing obstacles and differentiating between objects and people.

The price of round-the-clock virtual care is about $6,000 a month and it expected to appear in hospitals around the country by the end of this year.

The RP-VITA may have some competition though when it comes to computerized medical care. IBM's supercomputer Watson, known from its "Jeopardy!" fame, is being groomed to become a bedside tool for doctors and cancer specialists, able to diagnose illnesses and quickly come up with treatment options.