The gift of space-inspired robotics now goes beyond toys. They are lending a helping arm to pediatric doctors for children who require intensive surgical care.
The same companies which developed the robotic arms that helped astronauts build the
"Our tests indicate we can operate on tiny structures such as blood vessels without damaging them," said
To develop KidsArm,
The platform is being tested at
KidsArm is the first robotic surgical arm specifically designed for delicate pediatric specialties, including cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, fetal surgery, urosurgery and general surgery. Surgeons operate the tabletop tool using a pair of hand controllers in conjunction with high-precision, real-time imaging technology. The images allow doctors to pinpoint the area of concern so it will be easier to reconnect delicate vessels.
"Advanced technologies such as imaged-based tissue-tracking and robotic platforms help us select suture points and [follow] these points so that we can compensate for the tissue motion that sometimes makes these surgeries difficult," said Looi. "A stereo camera generates a 3-D point cloud. This is a set of data points that guide the tool tip and apply a series of sutures. KidsArm pushes the envelope using advanced imaging to identify suture locations. This allows the surgeon to automate suturing small vessels and other microsurgical tasks."
A key element of the KidsArm platform is the vision-based system that can function in an autonomous manner. This acts as the eyes and brains of the platform and is the focus of the research efforts.
The platform also consists of two other elements: an external positioning system that is on the outside of the patient and a surgical arm that reaches inside the patient. The external system uses a human arm-scale industrial robot that has been customized to support a highly automated surgical arm and suturing device. The surgical arm is the only element that would reach inside a patient. It is as small as possible while containing all the functionality needed for dexterous positioning and deploying the sutures.
Eventually, KidsArm can lead to more consistent outcomes for patients, and the ability to intervene earlier or perform manipulations on a smaller scale than current practice. Any of these abilities can result in cost savings, but further development is required to determine how this advanced technology can provide the greatest value to the health care system.
"The collaboration of leading medical researchers at
"The application of advanced sensing and the integration of this information into a platform to enable precise action is an exciting way to accurately improve healthcare delivery," he added. "KidsArm will continue to evolve this concept."
The CIGITI team recently presented a paper on KidsArm at the
"From the heights of the space station, to the hospitals here on Earth, we are excited that this space technology is making its way to better the lives of our families," said
Not only can a robot help improve the life of a child in ways such as simple play, but now there's one on the road to improve health and give hope to children and let them be just that: children. Healthy ones who play. Perhaps with robots.
International Space Station Program Science Office
Most Popular Stories
- Bently Creates Alabama Small Business Commission
- California King Fire Roars Out of Control
- Mercedes Rolls Out S550 Plug-in Hybrid
- Is Alibaba's IPO Price a Fairytale?
- Kardashian: Kanye Never Told Fan in Wheelchair to Stand Up
- SBA Kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month
- CalPERS Pulls Out of Hedge Funds
- Poverty Rate Drops for First Time Since 2006
- Two-thirds of Hispanics Doubt Media Accuracy
- U.S. Tobacco Growers Lose Last of Price Supports