Robot Surgeons Work for the Cheap Now, INSIDE the Body

Excerpt from
Researchers develop a low-cost system to track flexible surgical robots inside the body

Roboticists at the University of California San Diego have developed an affordable, easy to use a system to track the location of flexible surgical robots inside the human body.

The system performs as well as the current state of the art methods but is much less expensive. Many current methods also require exposure to radiation, while this system does not.

The system was developed by Tania Morimoto, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, and mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Connor Watson. Their findings are published in the April 2020 issue of IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.

“Continuum medical robots work really well in highly constrained environments inside the body,” Morimoto said. “They’re inherently safer and more compliant than rigid tools. But it becomes a lot harder to track their location and their shape inside the body. And so if we are able to track them more easily that would be a great benefit both to patients and surgeons.”

The researchers embedded a magnet in the tip of a flexible robot that can be used in delicate places inside the body, such as arterial passages in the brain.

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