Earlier this year we posted about how people are starting to specifically request robot-assisted surgeries as opposed to having ‘just’ a human operate on them. Now, researchers at Duke are working on an entirely autonomous robot arm that can take biopsies on humans based on ultrasound data. It works pretty well, too, at least on the dead turkeys that they tried it out on:
“In the latest series of experiments, the robot guided the plunger to eight different locations on the simulated prostate tissue in 93 percent of its attempts.”
I’m not entirely sure what happened in that other 7 percent… Most likely a slight miss with minimal consequences for the ex-turkey, as opposed to the robot going berserk and wildly stabbing everything within reach. More importantly, I’m curious as to what what the average “miss” rate is for a human taking a biopsy based on an ultrasound.
In any case, the idea here is that robots will eventually (soon, perhaps?) be able to at the very least take care of simple, routine medical procedures which will save patients both time and money.
“We’re now testing the robot on a human mannequin seated at the examining table whose breast is constrained in a stiff bra cup,” Smith said. “The breast is composed of turkey breast tissue with an embedded grape to simulate a lesion.”
This is making me hungry. Vid, after the jump.
Incidentally, turkeys are used because they have similar flesh to humans, and they show up about the same on an ultrasound. Also, they’re tasty.
Note: the robot in the picture, a DaVinci system, was not the robot being used for this study. And as far as I know, the turkey in the picture wasn’t involved either.