"The future of surgery is not about blood and guts; the future of surgery is about bits and bytes.”
/Dr. Richard Satava/

Friday, June 29, 2012

3rd North American Robotic Summer School

Since I received like 5 copies of their call, decided to put out a post as well. Applications are now welcomed for the 3rd North American Robotics Summer School (London, ON, Aug. 13-17.)
" The goal for the one-week Summer School is to provide trainees (PhD students and postdoctoral fellows) with lectures, hands-on laboratory experience, introduction to novel technologies and emerging themes, and informal interactions with leading experts. Several lectures will give an in-depth coverage of topics such as:     
  • surgical robotics     
  • haptics and teleoperation     
  • medical imaging     
  • computer-assisted surgical planning     
  • major therapy delivery techniques     
  • surgical simulation     
  • training     
  • performance assessment.
Approximately 65 people will be accepted for the 5 days of program including:
  •     Student poster sessions
  •     Industry participation (through attendees and an Industry Forum)
  •     Clinician participation
  •     Social events and networking opportunities
  •     Hands on activities in the laboratories at CSTAR and Robarts on the Campus of the University of Western Ontario."
The Canadian school enjoys the financial and professional support of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. Due to the renewed School Grant program, you can also apply with your robotic school idea! RASis seeking applications primarily from Asia. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Visiting UC Berkeley

Still back to California, within the frames of the IROS conference we were given the opportunity to tour University of California Berkeley. UC Berkeley is one of the very top research and educational institutions around the world, and altogether 7 labs prepared with demos and tours within thre proader scope of robotics.
Within the frames of the Lab for Automation Science and Engineering, first came the demo of the needle steering group (they ahve been working together with Hopkins for long): "Theis approach is to integrate real-time imaging, adaptive modeling and planning algorithms and image-guided intraoperative needle control. By enhancing physicians' abilities to accurately maneuver inside the human body with minimal trauma to the patient, the needle steering approach has the potential to improve targeting accuracy for a wide range of procedures, including therapeutic imaging, chemotherapy, cell therapy, biopsy and tumor ablation. These advances can improve the outcome of existing procedures and enable needle-based procedures for conditions that currently require open surgery or systemic treatment." More needle steering from them workshop at ICRA. Miccai 2008 workshop.
The Medical Robotics group has been there for a long time, rolling out complete systems and concepts as well.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

CIS news

Sunday, June 17, 2012


ICRA, the robotics community's premiere annual academic conference was held in the Saint Paul, May 14-18, 2012. The theme was Robots and Automation: Innovation for Tomorrow's Needs. "Robotics and automation are at the crossroads of new developments in algorithms, hardware, and software that pave new routes in technological innovation." The meeting attracted anunexpected number of people (as it happens year-by-year), but the organization went very smoothly.
An exciting new service was the video recording of all talks, that are made available to IEEE members. A highly recommended is Prof. Nelson's talk on the micro- and nanorobots they have developed at ETH.
A clearly noticable trend is the advancement of medical topic within the robotic domain. There were two sessions on Minimally invasive interventions, two on Medical robotics, one on Image-guided interventions, on Haptics, a separate one on Needle steering and on Rehabilitation robotics.
Just as before,  the core sessions were accompanied by a good number of workshops, out of which the EuroSurge one has already been covered here. Besides, there was the Pathways to Clinical Needle Steering workshop, and we developed some interest in Robotic Satelliet Servicing, via the Hopkins group.
Also worth mentioning, Best Medical Robotics Paper award went to Andrew Goslin et al., “Metal MEMS Tools for Beating-heart Tissue Removal”. Congratulations!
The full digest is available here.

Stats from the organizers: "836 papers and videos out of 2067 submissions (apx. 40% acceptance ratio) were presented. 1735 registrants from over 45 different countries attended the conference (apx. 52% from North America, 24% from Europe and 18% from Asia). ICRA 2012 had a number of innovations including the use of iAuthenticate, a Program Smartphone app, video-recording of technical talks, and USB-drive Digest with PDF papers and videos. ICRA 2012 reduced the number of parallel tracks from recent years to only 10 (9 orals + 1 interactive). The net effect was a well-received and high-quality technical conference. For a chronology of events leading to the conference, click here."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

European research projects

The EU is serious about R&D support, and looking for effective ways to promote cutting-edge research across hte continent and to avoid reinventing the wheel. Let us revisit the most important current efforts.
The EU Coordination actions are ran on a smaller budget, but directly aim to facilitate collaboration between the various groups, sectors, industry and academia. Most relevant for us is the EuroSurge initiative: "the Coordination Action EUROSURGE is carrying out a census of the European laboratories doing research in robotic surgery, to identify available competences and potential missing topics.
This workshop aims at presenting to the robotic community the results of the first six months of the project and to establish a fruitful discussion with experts in the areas of integration, standards, benchmarking, architectures and cognition."
Since dissemination is a key feature of these programs, high quality materials are available at e.g., the EuroSurge workshops organized in at the European Robotics Forum in March and at ICRA, in May. Next edition will be in Milan, early July
Traditional basic research programs are also supported. The Robocast ended over a year ago (resulting in great many publications, events and some photos), but we still have the great ACTIVE project: "exploiting ICT and other engineering methods and technologies for the design anddevelopment of an integrated redundant robotic platform for neurosurgery. A light and agile redundant roboticcell with 20 degrees-of-freedom (DoFs) and an advanced processing unit for pre- and intra-operative control willoperate both autonomously and cooperatively with surgical staff on the brain."; or the recently closing ARAKNES. And of course, there are just plenty of new submissions arriving to Brussels for every call. Next updates will come soon!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quiz #1

Something new:  a quiz to keep you entertained! Winners of the whole series will recieve some minor SurgRob gifts.
First question: What kind of master interface was used to control this early telerobotic system?

Send your answer to surgrob.blog at gmail.com before June 30!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

SRI -- part II

SRI has not stopped doing cool things. Among those, the free-flying of the M7 in 2007 stands out, since no one else is seeming to repeat their trick: putting a teleoperated surgical robot on board of a parabolic flight (at least). Roumor has it, they were offered the opportunity quite unexpectedly to fill up some experiment space on board of a NASA DC-9 flight. As described in the previous post, they were focusing on observing the human adoptation to weightlessness at the control, and how acceleration compensation can help. The results were translated to the on Earth environment of a speeding ambulance car. (Zero-gravity is fun: when I got the first, unedited copy of the video, I was asked not to distribute it widely, since it is apparent, they were having tremendous amusement along the experiments.)

A more recent project at SRI is Robotic Laser Tissue Welding. They are looking at the technology as a means to circumvent the need for suturing. "Telerobotic suturing is especially challenging at longer latencies which would be encountered during robotic combat casualty care.  The TATRC funded experiments used a robot to uniformly deliver laser energy to close a laceration. Two methods were demonstrated for direct tissue welding:  bovine serum albumin / hyaluronate acid solders and chitosan films. Robot controlled tissue welding of lacerations in explanted pig eyes decreased the total time of tissue apposition from a manual suturing from approximately 8 minutes to 3 minutes. Laser welded tissue had similar burst pressure as manually sutured tissue.  These experiments demonstrated that robotic laser tissue welding has potential value and further research is indicated."Read more about it here.

A good year ago, SRI made it to the headlines with its new Taurus robot. Claimed to rely mostly on da Vinci technology (especially for the cable drive and the control), this small bomb diffusing robot has a lot to do with the ancestros. The system is quite neet in real, and the whole robot was designed to be mountable on the tip of another, more expensive robot with a long are, allowing to keep the most precious structure apart from the imminent danger. Seeeing Taurus in real is posible, since it has made some public aprrearances. (More on the Taurus: here and here.)