UW - BioRobotics Lab

After the ATA2008 conference I was privileged to be invited to the University of Washington to visit Prof. Blake Hannaford's BioRobotics lab. I met him first at the 3rd Summer European University in Montpellier, France last September, where we teleoperated the lab's Raven robot through internet form over 10.000 km. I was looking forward to the occasion to see the device with my own eyes.
The UW is huge, covering almost 650 acres with Collegiate Gothic style buildings on the shore of the lake Washington, homing more than 40.000 students. The BioRob people have spent most of their time to build robots, gaining expertize in cable-driven systems. Their multi-purpose teleoperatable 6DOF surgical robot is called the Raven. It was primarily developed for DARPA, as a light-weight and universal alternative of the da Vinci. In the past two years it took part in field test in California and underwater(base) test in Florida, within the frames of the NASA NEEMO 12 misison. Nowadays, they are focusing on the possible applications of the Raven (e.g. suction during neurosurgery), and assembling a larger, 5DOF positioning arm.
They had built robots before, such as the Blue Dragon robot to acquire the kinematics and dynamics of endoscopic tools along with the surgical view. I liked most their new 3rd generation exoskeleton, which is light-weight and has impressive workspace. They are also interested in tissue contact modeling and haptics. I am grateful to the folks for the great tour and guidance in and out the lab!


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