From surgical robots that operate on humans to companion bots that comfort humans, robots are on the verge of taking over the medical field.
When you think of robots, you think of the classic cyborgs from science fiction.
Maybe you imagine R2-D2 and C-3PO; perhaps you think of the machines in the Matrix trilogy or the Terminator with its thick Austrian accent. But what you might not think of are the actual medical robots that are set to revolutionize the field of medicine.
From surgical robots that operate on humans to companion bots that comfort humans, robots are on the verge of taking over the medical field. Here are ten important medical robots that are shaping the future of healthcare.
First up is one of those rare robots that perform surgery…well, sort of.
The CyberKnife is a robotic surgical system that’s used to treat cancer with great precision. This is very important in cancer radiotherapy since the CyberKnife system minimizes the exposure of non-cancerous tissues to damaging radiation.
This wonder of medical technology mounts a linear accelerator onto a multi-axis robotic chassis. The “robotic surgeon” can then target the cancerous tissues from many angles without repositioning the patient.
The CyberKnife is a wonderful innovation, allowing for the treatment of tumors and cancers that were once too difficult or complex for surgery.
2. da Vinci Surgical System
For two decades, the da Vinci Surgical System has been assisting doctors in surgical operations.
One of the first medical robots, da Vinci augments, and enhances the surgical skills of surgeons. It’s a many-armed miracle machine, which uses sophisticated instruments and a three-dimensional, high-definition view that magnifies the surgical area.
The da Vinci system translates the hand movements of the surgeon to the robot, which can make precision cuts and incisions far beyond human capabilities.
We’ve all seen the humorous parody of a hospital patient. You know the one—the guy in a full-body cast, enmeshed in a Rube Goldberg contraption of mechanical cable pulleys so he can move his limbs.
But now hospitals and physical therapists have a more sophisticated medical technology at their disposal. The robotic exoskeleton has proven to be a boon for rehabilitation, using a robot-powered “suit” to allow patients to regain their mobility.
4. Disinfecting Robots
In this age of COVID-19, autonomous disinfecting robots are set to take off as one of the most important new medical robots.
Automated robots like Xenex’s LightStrike already patrol hospitals, zapping germs with pulses of ultraviolet radiation. The UV rays destroy pathogens of all kinds (including 99.99% of SARS-CoV-2 viruses) in a matter of minutes.
The robots use UVC light, which is a form of radiation against which pathogens have no resistance; best of all, the pulse of cleansing light is quick and comprehensive. Even the most thorough cleaning by a human being is less effective.
5. Origami Bots
You wanted to learn about medical robots…so now you’re getting the real science fiction stuff.
Advances in medical technology have led to experimental “origami robots,” which could remove poisonous objects from a patient’s stomach. Many small children have died from swallowing “button batteries,” or lithium coin batteries used in small electronics.
Origami robots are a perfect solution for preventing injuries and fatalities from these incidents. It’s designed to be swallowed in a dissolvable capsule; once it reaches the stomach, the “robot” unfolds like origami paper. It can be steered through magnetic fields to the foreign body, enfold it, and then be passed or otherwise retrieved.
6. Endoscopic Robots
This forms another class of digestible robots.
Endoscopy is a rather invasive and uncomfortable procedure. It involves the intrusion of a camera-equipped cable or hose through some bodily orifice to search for signs of disease or damage.
But endoscopic robots are pill-sized, “capsule bots” that can be swallowed. As it passes through your stomach and digestive system, it takes pictures—doing all the hard work of an endoscopy without the nasty side-effects.
7. Robotic Nurses
We all know that it’s nurses who do the real work in hospitals and clinics.
Still, they’re often beset with more work than they can handle. That’s where new “robotic nurses” can lend a helping hand.
These automated assistants can help out with the menial and repetitive tasks that accumulate in human nurses’ workloads. They can help monitor a patient’s vitals, move gurneys (like Aethon’s TUG robot), lift patients, and even fill out paperwork.
8. Companion Medical Robots
Yes, not all medical robots must be surgical robots.
Some are designed merely to provide a sense of comfort to human beings. In many ways, these are the sort of machines one thinks of when imagining robots.
Companion bots often have cutesy names, and they come with sensors and learning algorithms to respond to the affections of their human companions. Whether it’s the seal-like PARO or BUDDY, these robots are providing much-needed comfort to hospital patients
Though they’re not quite ready for primetime, targeted therapy micro-robots are on the horizon.
Calling this new technology “robots” might seem a bit of a stretch. In reality, micro-robots consist of small metallic microspheres or something similar. These tiny objects can be used to deliver targeted drugs or therapies to the specific area where they’re needed, such as tumors or cancerous tissue.
10. Medical Nano robots
Finally, in the ultimate medical science fiction, we come to medical nanorobots.
In the race to fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, these miniature robots may be just what the doctor ordered. The idea is to create “machines” that consist of tiny gold nanowires and which are coated with a platelet-rich membrane.
The nanorobots are controlled via ultrasound and can be dispatched through the bloodstream to slay bacteria that other methods cannot destroy. This could be the secret weapon needed in the war against antibiotic-resistant organisms.
Medical Robots Are the Future of Medicine
The truth is, medical robots are already here. Their sophistication is growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s a certainty that we can expect more innovation in the field of medical robotics.
Originally published donkle plant