LifeNaut Notes: Here’s a really cool article from Smart Machines that includes a brief video of a medical robot undergoing trail tests. Some pretty cool stuff to think that a robot could be automated to operate on the human body.
Source: “Robots performing surgery with full autonomy”
Robotic arms have been used in medical procedures for a while now, providing surgeons a level of steadiness and precision that few human hands can replicate. Now, however, things are moving forward to a future where these robot arms will be able to perform such operations almost entirely on their own.
At the present we are only talking about biopsies, or dealing with dead patients. A safe way to start, but scientists at the Duke University in North Carolina have already seen these robots achieve a 93% success rate when cutting into prostate tissue. A dead turkey, whose flesh has a similar texture to humans, was used in the experiments. The robotic arms used ultrasound to locate the exact placement of the organs, and then took real-time 3D information which told them what to do next.
The leader of the team, Professor Stephen Smith, explained that the next test they will undertake is to try out the arm on a human mannequin. This dummy will have a “stiff bra cup” with a grape embedded inside, to mimic a cancerous lesion. The robot’s job will be to remove this lesion while following correct medical procedure and saving the person’s life (theoretically). One of the main problems that will need to be addressed is improving the robots’ speed when it comes to obtaining and processing the data from the ultrasounds, but a more powerful processor and a more effective algorithm can help overcome this challenge.
The professor is hopeful that success in these tests will pave the way for a lot more robots doing surgeries on their own, not just biopsies. This would save patients time and money, which is one of the biggest problems in the healthcare industry today. Hopefully, they’ll be able to offer some type of medical guarantee as well.
A brief video showing a medical robot undergoing trials follows.
(Via Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.)