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Researchers develop world’s first robotic surgeon with a sense of touch

Giving a sense of touch to a machine is what a team of researchers hope will pave way for a major breakthrough in robotic surgery, which is currently limited to the sense of sight.

  • Updated: October 4, 2016 12:05 AM IST
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Robots were developed to make complex tasks easier for the mankind. From the manufacturing industry to medicine, robotics has today advanced by leaps and bounds. While the sense of touch might not be as significant in other fields, it plays a key role when it comes to the health sector. Giving a sense of touch to a machine is what a team of researchers hope will pave way for a major breakthrough in the robotic surgery.

Undergoing a robotic surgery, even if conducted under the supervision of a human doctor, is bound to draw a lot of scepticism. However, if a sense of touch is added, it is hoped that the doubts could be put to rest and more accurate results could be achieved in surgeries. Making the machine more human are researchers, including one of Indian origin, who claim to have developed the world’s first robotic surgical system called ‘HeroSurg’. This system can give surgeons the sense of touch while they conduct keyhole surgery using a computer. The sense of touch will not only allow robotic surgeon to ‘feel’ the tissues but also be able to better distinguish between them, which will eventually make the entire procedure a lot safer than before.

The HeroSurg robot is a major breakthrough to current technology, which now limits robotic surgery to the sense of sight. This means laparoscopic or keyhole micro surgery will be safer and more accurate than ever before by reducing trauma and lowering risk of blood loss and infection. The HeroSurg was developed by engineers from Deakin University in Australia and Harvard University in the US, along with Suren Krishnan from the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Krishnan said that the HeroSurg’s sense of touch, provided through technology known as haptic feedback, would lead to better patient outcomes.

“The major drawback of the current system is the lack of tactile feedback. Tactile feedback allows a surgeon to differentiate between tissues and to ‘feel’ delicate tissues weakened by infection or inflammation and dissect them more carefully. Tactile feedback will allow us to use finer and more delicate sutures in microsurgery,” he added. Krishnan further said the haptics technology would also improve the ability to distinguish between tissues involved with cancer from normal tissue. ALSO READ: Ten robots start working as custom officers in China

The project’s lead researcher Mohsen Moradi Dalvand said, “HeroSurg’s unique features include collision avoidance capability, modularity and automatic patient bed adjustment.

  • Published Date: October 4, 2016 12:00 AM IST
  • Updated Date: October 4, 2016 12:05 AM IST