Panasonic isn't the first company to turn to robots as a means for dispensing drugs, but it looks like it's set to become one of the bigger players in the still fledgling field, with it announcing today that it's developing a robot that it hopes will rake it about 30 billion yen (or $315 million) by 2016. Unfortunately, Panasonic isn't quite ready to actually show off the robot just yet, but it says it could be making the rounds at some Japanese hospitals by next March, and head into the United States and Europe sometime after that. It's also not ready to do much talking about specifics, with it only going so far as to say that it "does not look humanoid" but rather looks like "a cabinet with lots of small drawers" (no doubt somewhat like the Pyxis bot pictured above), and that it'll be able to store medical data for each patient and sort out prescriptions for up to 400 patients in about two hours. That cabinet won't come cheap though, with Panasonic estimating that it'll cost "several tens of millions of yen," or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

[Via TG Daily, image courtesy Wikipedia / Jeremy Kemp]