Meet the robot that’s fifty times faster than a brain surgeon Meet the robot that’s fifty times faster than a brain surgeon
1 WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF Robots integrated with AI and Machine Vision are becoming increasingly capable surgeons and one day they’ll save thousands... Meet the robot that’s fifty times faster than a brain surgeon


  • Robots integrated with AI and Machine Vision are becoming increasingly capable surgeons and one day they’ll save thousands of lives


Earlier this week scientists in the US revealed a new robotic drill that can cut, excuse the pun, the most sensitive brain surgeries down from two hours to just two and a half minutes – a fifty fold increase in speed.


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The robot, developed at the University of Utah, is being hailed as a breakthrough and its speed means that the patients chances of survival will increase dramatically and cut the risk of infection. The team also says that the drill produces fast, clean, and safe cuts, reducing the amount of time the wound is open and the patient anaesthetised, which also decreases the chances of human error, as well as the cost of surgery.

Today, by comparison, in complex surgeries, especially cranial surgeries, surgeons typically use hand drills to make intricate openings, and that adds hours to a procedure.


Fast and accurate, the Robo-Drill in action

“It was like doing archaeology. We had to slowly take away the bone to avoid sensitive structures,” said Dr William Couldwell, a neurosurgeon at University of Utah, “we knew the technology was already available in the machine world, but no one ever applied it to medical applications.”

Under the new system, patients will undergo CT scans to establish the exact location of sensitive structures such as nerves, major veins and arteries that must be avoided, and surgeons can use this information to program the cutting path of the drill and the surgeon can program safety barriers along the cutting path within 1 mm of sensitive structures.

“The software lets the surgeon choose the optimum path from point A to point B, like Google Maps,” said Dr A Balaji, who also worked on the drill, “think of the barriers like a construction zone. You slow down to navigate it safely.”


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The robot drill, which joins other increasingly famous surgical robots such as STAR which recently operated on a human, and Rosa, a robot that performs intricate brain surgery, does the heavy lifting by removing most of the bone, similar to a mill, accurately and rapidly, and while it hasn’t yet been tested on human patients the team’s planning their first trial in the next couple of months.

The research was published in the journal Neurosurgical Focus.

Matthew Griffin Global Futurist 未来学家, Tech Evangelist, XPrize Mentor ● Int'l Keynote Speaker ● Disruption, Futures and Innovation expert

Matthew Griffin, Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute is described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers.” Among other things Matthew keeps busy helping the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers ideate the next five generations of smartphones, and what comes beyond, the world’s largest chip makers envision the next twenty years of intelligent machines, and is helping Europe’s largest energy companies re-invent energy generation, transmission and retail. Recognised in 2013, 2015 and 2016 as one of Europe’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an award winning author, entrepreneur and international speaker who has been featured on the BBC, Discovery and other outlets. Working hand in hand with accelerators, investors, governments, multi-nationals and regulators around the world Matthew helps them envision the future and helps them transform their industries, products and go to market strategies, and shows them how the combination of new, democratised, powerful emerging technologies are helping accelerate cultural, industrial and societal change. Matthew’s clients include Accenture, Bain & Co, Bank of America, Blackrock, Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting Group, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deutsche Bank, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Du Pont, E&Y, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, HPE, Huawei, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, Lloyds Banking Group, McKinsey & Co, PWC, Qualcomm, Rolls Royce, SAP, Samsung, Schroeder’s, Sequoia Capital, Sopra Steria, UBS, the UK’s HM Treasury, the USAF and many others.

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