At the end of January, the International Advanced Robotics Programme (IARP) held a 2-day forum on Cognitive Surgical Robotics in Heidelberg. The program featured renowned scientists from all around the world, who presented the state of the art in their region. Talks covered Europe in general, Germany, Korea, the UK, Japan, France, Spain, Poland and the US with Canada. (Probably the most exciting part in Ron Kikinis' presentation was when he introduced all the free medical imaging platforms based on a Nature Methods article, and derived why Slicer in the only good solution out there.) The next session was covering key companies/centers working in the area, such as DLR, KUKA and Force Dimension. Next, the current/recent major FP7 projects were introduced, such as Robocast, Active, EuroSurge, Safros. Participants also got an insight to what certain groups have roadmapped for the future. Cognition was also addressed on the sideline, although more questions were raised than answers given. Finally, a panel was brought up where an interesting discussion emerged, where the distinguished fellows expressed their anticipation for the future:
- expect to see evidence-based robotic surgery
- SILS/NOTES on a higher scale
- affordable MIS tools
- all kinds of guidance for procedures.
Adjoin, participants were given an organized tour to the medical robotics labs of KIT in Karlsruhe, and I also got a private tour to the labs of dkfz's Division of Medical and Biological Informatics. (Reports will come later.)