The Japanese EMARO robot
"In 2015, Japanese researchers revealed EMARO, an air-powered endoscopic robot that gives surgeons hands-free control and enhances visualization inside a patient’s body with three movable cameras. It is expected to be marketed to hospitals and universities in Japan in 2017 and be available overseas within the next few years.
Riverfield Inc., a university-originated venture company, developed an endoscope holder robot "EMARO" that is compact, lightweight and highly operable, facing such problems. In its "EMARO", it is equipped with the world's first system to control endoscopic surgery faithfully by pneumatic control that can perform soft operation like human beings. With the support of the assistant required so far, the surgeon realizes a new mechanism that allows the surgeon to operate the endoscope as she wants."
"Emaro is the first pneumatically driven robot in the world that can control an endoscope, a tubelike camera used to see inside the body, to assist surgeons in operations, according to the researchers from Tokyo Institute of Technology and Tokyo Medical and Dental University.
Emaro consists of a compressor, a control panel and a column that supports an arm that works the endoscope. The surgeon can control its movements in hands-free fashion while working forceps manipulators inside the body and viewing the Emaro camera feed on a large monitor.
Because it's powered by compressed air, the Emaro endoscope can move smoothly and precisely, and the researchers said it can improve the safety of surgery with laparoscopes, a type of endoscope. Laparoscopic surgeries involve the insertion of long fiber-optic tubes through small incisions in the abdomen. Such minimally invasive operations leave smaller scars and can promote better recovery.
The Emaro scope can move along four axes -- back and fourth, side to side, up and down and rotational.
At a demo at Tokyo Institute of Technology on Friday, a researcher put on a surgical cap fitted with a gyroscope over the forehead. When he moved his head, the machine would move the endoscope, including the camera and light at its tip. He also used foot switches to send directional controls to the device, and to put it into manual control mode.
Emaro can assist with surgeries such as operations for lung disease as well as gastric and prostate cancer. It could replace human endoscope operators, which could be especially useful in areas that lack such skilled workers.
"The camera is fixed and won't shake like when it's held by a person, which can make the doctor feel sick," said Kenji Kawashima, a professor at Tokyo Medical and Dental University who co-developed the system."