Cutting Surgical Robots Down To Size

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It was just a matter of time when surgical robots would become a matter of now. They have been present in operating rooms, for years now, but they have been too massive in size and difficult to manipulate.

Some of these robots can even take up an entire room, which is why mini-robots were created to help.

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Medical researchers, together with engineers, have created the mini-RCM, a surgical robot the size of a tennis ball that weighs as much as a penny but performs better than manually operated tools in delicate mock-surgical procedures.

Teleoperated surgical robots are becoming commonplace in operating rooms, and it’s all possible thanks to technology development.

Even minimally, invasive laparoscopic surgeries couldn’t be possible without a surgeon using tools and a tiny camera into small incisions to perform operations.

Together, the right tools and a tiny camera made surgical procedures safer for both patients and doctors in the last 50 years.

The creation of a miniature surgical robot was a long road. Wyss Associate Faculty member Robert Wood, Ph.D., and Robotics Engineer Hiroyuki Suzuki of Sony Corporation turned to the Pop-Up MEMS manufacturing technique that was developed in Wood’s lab.

In Wood’s lab-specific technique, materials are deposited on top of each other in layers, then laser-cut in a pattern that allows 3D shape. This simple technique simplifies the mass production of small and complex structures that would otherwise be constructed by hand.

Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., said that “This unique collaboration between the Wood lab and Sony illustrates the benefits that can arise from combining the real-world focus of industry with the innovative spirit of academia, and we look forward to seeing the impact this work will have on surgical robotics in the near future.”

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It’s expected for mini-robots to be more precise than a human hand and even to perform delicate surgical maneuvers.

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