DARPA's TraumaPod project

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the US Department of Defense responsible for the development of innovative technology. They were supporting many of the prior surgical robotics projects. One of their most famous initiative is Trauma Pod, supported by many institutes. The "The Trauma Pod Program will enhance battlefield casualty care by developing autonomous and semi-autonomous mobile platforms through the integration of tele-robotic and robotic medical systems. The initial phase has successfully automated functions typically performed by the scrub nurse and circulating nurse; these functions are now performed by semi-autonomous robots working in coordination with the tele-robotic surgeon. The next phase of the program will develop methods for autonomous airway control and intravenous access so that initial therapy can be autonomously administered. Finally, these systems will be miniaturized and incorporated into a tactical platform capable of operating in a battlefield or mass casualty environment."
The first concept video of the system is very well known, and in 2006 the first phase of the research was successfully finished: equipping and integrating a robotic OR to be able to perform all tasks with now immediate human presence. A smaller Mitsubishi robot is servicing the da Vinci and provides faster tool exchange and tissue manipulation. The next phase is to improve the capabilities and reduce the size of the system, so it can really fit on a mobile first aid truck.
The robots developed with the help of DARPA (like the M7 or the Raven) have been tested in extreme environment already, in weightlessness and at NASA Aquarius underwater habitat (video).


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