Emerging systems in medical robotics--CARLO, Veebot, ATRAS and others
Industrial robots did not only mean a solid platform for medical applications in the old days: especially with the rise of the cooperative robots, various new applications employ KUKA and Staubli platforms. A nice article appeared on RIA recently:
"There is an influx of research and startups in the medical space, many of them in stealth mode with applications under development. Others are on the cusp of market introduction.
One of those applications soon slated for the operating room is a robot-assisted device for cutting bone with a laser. CARLO (pictured), which stands for ColdAblation Robot-guided Laser Osteotome, is in advanced-stage development by AOT in Basel, Switzerland. The device uses the KUKA LBR iiwa robot to guide the laser beam to the precise location for the bone ablation procedure.
Compared to the conventional method of using an oscillating saw to cut through the bone, robot-guided laser osteotomy is reported to provide more precise cutting geometries, thereby minimizing the amount of ablated bone and thermal damage. It also reduces soft tissue damage, promotes faster healing, and allows for complex 3D reconstruction geometries currently only capable with robots. It’s expected to be used in all forms of osteotomies, starting with craniomaxillofacial surgery.
This video takes a peek into the lab at AOT so you can see the laser bone-cutting robot in action.
AOT, a Basel University Hospital spin-off, just completed series B financing and the CARLO device is expected to enter clinical trials soon.
Integral to AOT’s process is KUKA’s collaborative, lightweight robot. The KUKA LBR iiwa (LBR stands for Leichtbauroboter, which is German for lightweight robot) represents a new breed of robots designed to be inherently safe out of the box, without the need for elaborate safety fencing common to many industrial robots. This allows them to work in close proximity with their human operators.
For more information about human-robot collaboration and the robots making news in this domain, check out these articles: Major Robot OEMs Fast-Tracking Cobots and The Realm of Collaborative Robots – Empowering Us in Many Forms.
Ryan says they have research projects at various universities around the world studying the use of KUKA’s lightweight, collaborative robot for various medical procedures. He says the increased adoption of collaborative robots in the industrial sector is driving the medical marketplace as well.
“There’s lots of research and we have four or five OEMs trying to bring products to market using the lightweight robot. It’s a robot built for people in the workspace. That’s where the big change has been in the last three years. The collaborative robot market has exploded.”
One such study involves robotic suturing with the KUKA lightweight robot.
“Kevin Cleary’s group at Children’s National Medical Center did a great project where they developed a system for suturing,” says Ryan. “They built a tool that goes on the end of the robot. It pushes the needle through the skin and the robot pulls it tight just like a surgeon would. The spacing of the sutures was much better than by hand, and even better than the da Vinci System when they tested it. The deformation of the skin was far less when the robot pulled the sutures tight. Overall, the suturing was far superior.”
Researchers are also using KUKA’s lightweight robot for ultrasound scanning."Read more here.
Hat tip: CvT. Thanks!