Vision-guided snake robots enable minimally invasive surgeries

Flex System robots

This past summer we reported on a project out of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute which involved vision-enabled snake robots crawling through pipes and valves to inspect a nuclear power plant in Austria. Now, a robot based on the same design will be used by surgeons to access and visualize hard-to-reach anatomical locations for minor surgical procedures.

In the project—which is being led by Howie Choset of Carnegie Mellon and Alon Wolf and Dr. Marco Zenati from Carnegie Mellon spin-off Medrobotics Corp.—a flexible endoscope snake-like robot called the Flex System will be used to extend the benefits of minimally invasive surgery, according to a press release.  Much like the robot that was used to inspect difficult-to-reach spaces in a nuclear power plant, this robot will be equipped with LED lighting and an HD video camera on the head of the device, with ports on either side of the camera to accommodate for cutting or grasping tissue.

Flex System robots are controlled by a physician via joystick, which allows maneuverability around organs and other obstructions. Once a robot is able to access a specific anatomical part or location, it deploys specially-designed flexible surgical instruments to perform procedures. Initially developed and tested for heart procedures, the Flex System is now being marketed in Europe on head and neck surgeries accessed through the mouth.

"The Flex System provides a unique platform to access and visualize surgical targets in difficult to reach locations, such as the oropharynx (the area connecting the mouth to the top of the throat) and endolarnyx (within the larynx)," said Dr. Marshall Strome, chairman emeritus of the Cleveland Clinic Head and Neck Institute and a Medrobotics medical adviser.

View the press release.

Also check out:
Robot snakes inspect nuclear power plants
Vision system uses scorpion venom protein and a laser to identify tumors
NASA’s Robonaut 2 humanoid robot learning emergency medical skills

Share your vision-related news by contacting James Carroll, Senior Web Editor, Vision Systems Design

To receive news like this in your inbox
, click here.

Join our LinkedIn group | Like us on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter | Check us out on Google +

 

Webcasts

Applying 3D imaging to automation and robotics

With a focus on the use of 3D imaging in industrial automation and robotics, this webcast will begin by explaining exactly what 3D imaging encompasses and why the technique is important for industr...

Tips and techniques for improving OCR/OCV

Optical character recognition (OCR) and optical character verification (OCV) technologies offer many advantages in automation applications. They also involve some inherent challenges, which this we...
September 16, 2014

Making accurate measurements with machine vision software

In this webcast viewers will learn how to use machine vision to solve metrology tasks in factory automation and offline inspection applications. We will show how to choose the proper calibration an...
September 4, 2014

Choosing components for intelligent transportation systems

Intelligent transportation systems depend on the interoperation of sophisticated OEM components. This expert webcast will provide guidance on how to choose such components—including illumination sy...
July 22, 2014

Archives

Click here to view archived Vision Systems Design articles