Medical Robotics

Wishing for Robots

Posted 30 May 2007 at 23:09 UTC by steve Share This

Patricia Wilson of Make a Wish Foundation writes, "I wanted to share an incredible story about one of our wish kids who is using his wish to help other sick children - via a robot!!" Jericho Rajninger, a seven year old leukemia patient, wished for a robot that could "deliver cheer and medication to other young patients at the UCSF Children's Hospital. Aethon donated one their TUG autonomous mobile robots which are already in widespread use in hospitals. Jericho had futher stipulated that his robot should be cool, so Gensler and Daedalus Excel assisted by giving the robot the appearance of a old-style train engine and the voice of Don LaFontaine (MP3 format). The resulting robot is named J.R. For more details, see the UCSF new release or read on for the Make a Wish Foundation news release.

Media Contact: David Perry & Associates, Inc. / David Perry (415) 693-0583 / cell (415) 676-7007 / Seven-Year-Old Gives “Wish” to Help Other Young Cancer Patients

A one-of-a-kind mobile robot to be unveiled at UCSF Children’s Hospital

Aethon donates equipment worth over $100,000

29 May 2007 -- San Francisco: Once upon a time a spoonful of sugar might have helped the medicine go down. That might be fine for some people, but not seven-year Jericho Rajninger who is battling leukemia. On Thursday, May 31, the young Larkspur, California resident will unveil his version of sugar – a $100,000 autonomous mobile robot that will deliver cheer and medication to other young patients at UCSF Children’s Hospital at UCSF Medical Center. Constructed and donated by Aethon of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the customized TUG robot – nicknamed “J.R.” – is fully automated and speaks with the voice of famed Hollywood film trailer voice-over actor Don LaFontaine.

“It’s The Little Engine that Could™ meets high tech,” said Patricia Wilson, Executive Director of the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation who facilitated Jericho’s wish. “With Jericho we have a very special wish – and a very special child – a wish to help others. In fact, Jericho was inspired by wish child, Ben Duskin, whose wish to create a video game that fights cancer resulted in “Ben’s Game.” Jericho found that one of the most difficult parts of treatment for kids is seeing all the medicines necessary to battle their cancer. Jericho thought a robot might make the process if not fun, at least more pleasant.”

Long recognized as an international leader in the production of automated delivery systems for hospitals, Aethon has been assisted in the development of Jericho’s wish by San Francisco-based Gensler and Daedalus Excel, also headquartered in Pennsylvania.

“The initial robot donation from Aethon left us speechless,” said Wilson. “Here was a company thousands of miles away whom we had not met, yet they were so compelled by Jericho’s generosity that they stepped forward to help in a huge way!” However, the wish was not yet fulfilled as the robot was institutional-looking and wouldn’t achieve Jericho’s goal of looking “cool.” Make-A-Wish called on friends at Gensler who also agreed to help make Jericho’s dream a reality. After several meetings with Jericho, Gensler developed a “cool” look – the institutional TUG robot would look like a train. But, there was still the challenge of manufacturing the design, and that is where Daedalus Excel came in. Of course, every cool robot needs a cool voice – and J.R. the robot now has the coolest voice around – Don LaFontaine!

“Aethon is proud to help make Jericho’s wish come true – for him, and for so many courageous young people. We couldn’t have done it without the efforts of several other companies in Pittsburgh who contributed their services to creating the customized TUG: Daedalus Excel, Design Specialties, Dakota Design, Donna Kerns, and Kenson Plastics,” said Aldo Zini, CEO of Aethon. We are inspired by Jericho’s generosity and compassion for his fellow patients and the work done by the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation. So while UCSF Children’s Hospital is the first to implement Jericho’s J.R. robot, it will not be the last. Aethon is going to help fulfill Jericho’s wish on a national scale by making his TUG available to children’s hospitals. We also look forward to continuing and strengthening our partnership with the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation.”

“On behalf of the faculty, staff and all the children we serve, we proudly welcome J.R. to the UCSF family,” said Roxanne Fernandes, Executive Director of UCSF Children’s Hospital. “Jericho’s wish is unselfish and will surely bring a smile to help other young patients.”

“In all, J.R. the robot has been in the works for nine months and is the result of collaboration by many generous individuals and companies,” said Wilson. “But, I suppose the outpouring of generosity isn’t too surprising, especially when you start with a seven-year old cancer patient who wants to help other children. How can you NOT be motivated to help? Obviously, this seven-year old’s generosity was inspiring and will continue to delight many children in the months and years ahead.”

MEDIA NOTE: to listen to Robot’s Voice “J.R.” go to:

About Aethon: Based in Pittsburgh, PA, Aethon is a leader in affordable autonomous mobile robots for practical business applications. In healthcare, the company’s patented technology platform is redefining hospital supply chain logistics by automating the location, delivery and recovery of key assets. The net result of Aethon’s low-cost, easy-to-install, RFID-based asset utilization solution is improved caregiver efficiency and satisfaction, increased asset utilization, decreased equipment rentals, increased patient safety and satisfaction, and improved regulatory compliance. Nearly 100 hospitals nationwide have deployed Aethon’s TUG and HOMER robots. For more information visit

About UCSF Children’s Hospital at UCSF Medical Center: Children come to UCSF from all over Northern California and around the world for treatment of rare childhood cancers. For some of cancers, including Ben's type of leukemia, experts at UCSF have helped to change the prognosis from dismal to curable -- and to find better treatments with fewer side-effects. At the UCSF Pediatric Treatment Center in the Ambulatory Care Center overlooking Golden Gate Park, children and their families come for comprehensive medical care and the social support essential to helping the child and the family cope with the complexities of cancers and blood disorders. For more information about pediatric hematology and oncology at UCSF Children's Hospital, visit About the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation: In 2007, the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation® celebrates 23 years of fulfilling magical wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses. One of the largest chapters nationwide, it has granted over 4,000 wishes in its 17 Northern California counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Marin, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Siskiyou, Solano and Sonoma. In August 2005, the Chapter was recognized with a coveted “Best in America Seal of Excellence” award, the first Make-A-Wish Chapter to achieve this distinction for its outstanding management and governance practices. Of the 1,000,000 charities operating in the United States today, it is estimated that fewer than 50,000, or 5 percent, meet or exceed these standards, and, of those, fewer than 2,000 have been awarded this Seal. For more information, please call (800) 464-9474 or visit

See more of the latest robot news!

Recent blogs

30 Sep 2017 evilrobots (Observer)
10 Jun 2017 wedesoft (Master)
9 Jun 2017 mwaibel (Master)
25 May 2017 AI4U (Observer)
25 Feb 2017 steve (Master)
16 Aug 2016 Flanneltron (Journeyer)
27 Jun 2016 Petar.Kormushev (Master)
2 May 2016 motters (Master)
10 Sep 2015 svo (Master)
14 Nov 2014 Sergey Popov (Apprentice)
Share this page