Scottish hospital employs robot porters

We all wowed as Luke Skywalker was treated by medical droids in The Empire Strikes Back, imagining a time when we wouldn't have to be poked and prodded by old blokes in damp-sodden rooms. And now, the new Forth Valley Hospital in Stirlingshire, Scotland is bringing that concept a little closer.

The £300 million institution, which opens its doors in August 2010, has employed a fleet of robots to wander its halls, albeit not as medical staff, rather as replacements to human porters.

'Bots will carry out behind-the-scenes tasks. They'll carry clinical waste, deliver food, clean theatres, and dispense drugs. And while they owe more to motorised filing cabinets than humanoid droids, such as the 2-1Bs in Star Wars, they can lift and carry heavier objects than most of us.

Now all we're waiting for is Carry On Automaton, with such classic double entendres as "1000010000111101111100001111, 100000111110000011111111100. Hyuk hyuk hyuk!"