By Andy Choi
Robotics experts at the University of Washington and at the University of California, Santa Cruz have finished a set of seven innovative robotic surgery systems for medical research laboratories across the US. Following the final tests, five of the robotic systems will be delivered to medical robotics researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, UC Berkeley, University of Nebraska, and UCLA. The remaining two systems will be kept at the University of Washington and the University of California, Santa Cruz.
According to Jacob Rosen, principal investigator on the project and associate professor of computer engineering in the Baskin School of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the team had decided to track an open-source prototype because a universal research platform for robotic surgery will pave the way for rapid advancement.
Rosen together with Blake Hannaford, Director of the University of Washington Biorobotics Laboratory, headed the research team that designed the Raven I and Raven II robotic surgery systems. Hannaford informed that the robotic systems will be delivered by January end. Once they are shipped and installed, all the seven systems will be linked together across the Internet for joint experiments.
Robotic surgery allows innovative surgical procedures that are minimally invasive than current procedures. For instance prostate surgery, which utilizes surgical robots, and telesurgery offer a huge potential to provide improved access to professional care in remote locations. A network of labs working on a universal platform will allow researchers to copy experiments and work together in other ways.
Rosen informed that each laboratory will have an identical system. They can alter the software and hardware and share latest developments and algorithms yet retain IP rights for their own innovations. The Raven II robotic system features a camera that can be used to view the operational field, a surgical robot with two robotic arms and a surgeon-interface system for isolated operation of the robot. The system is capable of supporting research on advanced robotic surgery procedures.
A Raven IV surgical robotics system has also been developed, which features two cameras and four robotic arms. It allows co-operation between two surgeons working from different areas and connected via the Internet.