Blake Dowling: Beep, Beep — how tech helps seniors and the sick
The Tru-D robot in action at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Image via Tru-D SmartUVC.

It is not just driverless cars that are making things better, robots are doing their part too.

This spring and summer, a lot of the tech talk has been about keeping people working.

Companies like Zoom are in the spotlight and other tech platforms who are doing their part to keep things rocking along. Another area of the tech sector that has been doing its part is driverless tech.

I have authored several pieces on this over the years, most recently as 2019 but not with some of the unique utilizations that we see in Florida and the world in 2020.

This is not a comeback as the tech never went away and has indeed been here for years; they have just had some barriers to get over and been waiting on the right opportunity to knock us out with their creativity. Cue the LL Cool J music, please:

Beep is a company in Orlando that was using driverless tech at the Mayo Clinic to help transport COVID-19 test samples this spring. They have partnered up with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to help get the program going.

By using a self-driving shuttle to transport samples, Beep is making everyone’s life safer at that facility. According to the Mayo Clinic News Network, this is the first in the country to use driverless vehicles in this way.

The Beep Driverless vehicle at Mayo Clinic.

I spoke with representatives of Beep; the work they are doing at the clinic is very cool.

They are keeping people safe and allowing the facility to be smarter with its resources. A staff member places the samples in the shuttle, and away they go — no driver nor additional human contact.

Beep is growing, too. They will be potentially offering driverless shuttle transportation, not just at Mayo Clinic and in Orlando, they are also headed to Tampa.

Thank you, Racquel, for your time; I loved learning more about Beep and the awesome tech you all have deployed.

Check out their CEO discussing the Mayo Clinic project.

The Mayo Clinic shuttle route, Image via Mayo Clinic.
Danger, Will Robinson – just kidding, Tru-D Robot, picture courtesy of Tru-D SmartUVC.

It is not just driverless cars that are making things better; robots are doing their part too.

In Sarasota, at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Tru-D (Total Room Ultraviolet Disinfector) cleans each room after the discharge of a COVID-19 patient; the robot gets the job done more thoroughly than its human counterpart.

I reached out to the team at Tru-D Smart UVC and their President, Chuck Dunn, who offered the following:

“Tru-D has been a part of the infection prevention efforts at Sarasota Memorial since 2015 and plays an integral role in helping to keep the facility clean and germ-free for patients and staff.

Sarasota uses Tru-D as a complement to its stringent infection prevention protocols, which include manual cleaning, antibiotic stewardship and hand hygiene.”

The Aegis Team with the TMH Animal Therapy team doing awesome work for our community.

Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs is also doing something special with tech for our state’s aging population.

A DOEA program sent 375 robot pets to isolated seniors, to keep them company this spring and summer.

I have worked with our Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Foundation Animal Therapy Group, those pets do a great job and what an excellent alternative where pets or any visitors are not allowed.

Thinking of how lonely my aging grandparents were, even when the family was around, really breaks my heart for this part of our population.

The isolation they experience in the summer is off the charts, so kudos to the DEOA for this innovative idea.

Robotic companions provided to those in isolation. Image via the Department of Elder Affairs

A company called Ageless Innovation makes these pets, and you can check out a neat video on them here:

Also, before I grasped the serious positive upside of these little robo-critters, my mind went straight to the film the Dark Crystal with David Bowie. (Anyone else thinks of that, or was it the NeverEnding Story?)

Either way, there is amazing tech filling a great need, and the childhood flashbacks of these two films are a bonus for me.

NeverEnding Story Pandemic meme, not poking fun of the robo-critters. I think they rule, just wondering when the pandemic will end — Bueller? Bueller? We are waiting.

You can request one of these pets on the Elder Affairs website for anyone in isolation that needs a friend. Rebecca, from their communications office, told me that due to high demand after the initial 375, there had been another order placed. Link here to request one.

Robots are also responsible for food delivery in some quarantined areas (Beep provided this service too), as well as allowing health care providers the ability to conduct remote sessions with infected patients or even remote drones to help look for violations of stay at home orders.

Luckily that last one doesn’t apply to United States citizens, but I bet it made you wonder for a sec.

Thank you to those around our state and nation that innovate to keep us safer, secure, and in some cases, feel less alone.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, host of the Biz & Tech podcast, and he writes for several organizations.

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at


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