Paging Dr. 3PO. One day soon robots could performing routine procedures in the OR.
Bioengineers at Duke University announced yesterday that they've created a robot that can "locate a man-made, or phantom, lesion in simulated human organs, guide a device to the lesion and take multiple samples during a single session," all without a doctor's supervision. Researchers hope these developments could one day lead to robots working autonomously on basic surgical operations.
Nicknamed the Biopsy Bot, the robot relies on 3-D and ultrasound technology for its movement. The ultrasound scans serve as the robot's "eyes," enabling the doc bot to locate its target. With advanced artificial technology, the robot processes the 3-D data and sends out specific commands to its mechanical "arm" and "hand," devices that examine lesions and are able to take samples.
So far, the next-gen surgical robot has been 93% effective in its most recent tests, and researchers at Duke are confident about the robot's viability.
“One of the beauties of this system is that all of the hardware components are already on the market,” said the team's leader, professor Stephen Smith. “We believe that this is the first step in showing that with some modifications, systems like this can be built without having to develop a new technology from scratch.”
Check out the video below to see the robot in action. Doesn't it remind you of the bot from Star Wars that fixed Luke Skywalker's hand?