Yes, It is Brain Surgery
The SpineAssist surgical bots from Mazor Robotics
www.mazorrobotics.com), coupled with the company's Renaissance Surgical
Guidance System have been used in more than 15,000 spinal implant procedures
worldwide. The system has now been modified to perform brain surgery, as
demonstrated in three biopsy operations at the HSK Hospital in Wiesbaden,
Germany, thus paving the way for adoption in other countries. According to Mazor,
both the US Food and Drug Administration and EU CE Mark regulators are
reviewing the system for brain procedures and should be rendering their decisions
later this year, allowing an official product launch early in 2013. Clinical trials were
previously carried out on cadavers, but the latest are the first performed on live
patients. Mazor CEO Ori Hadomi commented, "We are very proud about the first
successful robotically guided procedures on the brain carried out in the world. This is
the first and major step for the company and a technological breakthrough."
According to Mazor, the technology is applicable in the brain for biopsies, shunt placements, and neurostimulation electrode
placement such as for deep brain stimulation (DBS). In the USA alone, about 25,000 brain biopsies are carried out annually, and
the potential market for "inserting and navigating implants for deep brain stimulation therapy" is estimated at hundreds of
millions of dollars.
Mazor's SpineAssist bot, soon to be
approved for brain surgery as well.
Robo Insects: Fact or Fiction?
In case you have missed it, there has been some
scuttlebutt going around to the effect that the US
military has perfected a spy drone that closely
resembles a common mosquito. It is said to be so true
to the original that you may not notice the difference.
The remotely controlled bugbot is equipped with both
a camera and a microphone and — as the story goes
— can land on you, take DNA samples, implant an
RFID device into your skin, or even inject you with toxins. The story is generally considered to be a hoax since the photo
doesn't seem to depict all of those features, and there has been no confirmation from the military. There also has been no
denial, but that is standard operating procedure. However, it is confirmed that a robotic butterfly with strikingly similar
wings actually has been developed at Harvard University's Microrobotics Lab (
micro.seas.harvard.edu), along with several
other wing-flapping critters. So, we'll have to leave it up to you as to whether the mosquito is real or just a darn good
prank. Either way, keep a fly swatter handy since Raid won't phase it.
Robo mosquito and butterfly. Are these real?
Art Imitates Death
On occasion, we herein note the hazards of mixing artists with robotics,
and a recent aesthetic flare-up has been spawned by Dan Chen, an "artist,
graphic designer, interaction designer, web developer, and improvisational
engineer." Dan's Last Moment Robot (LMR) is devised for bedside use in
hospices, where it can serve as a replacement if family and friends can't be
around to wave goodbye as you begin your eternal celestial dirt nap. The LMR
caresses your arm and comforts you using a prerecorded script that runs as
follows: "Hello [your name], I am the Last Moment Robot. I am here to help
you and guide you through your last moment on earth. I am sorry that (pause)
your family and friends can't be with you right now, but don't be afraid. I am
here to comfort you (pause). You are not alone, you are with me (pause). Your
family and friends love you very much. They will remember you after you are gone (pause). Time of death 11: 56."
In Dan's defense, this exists only as an artistic demonstration and is not actually intended to be put to practical use. In fact, it
is designed to question the appropriateness of such mechanical assistants as the Paro robot which is used in Japan as therapy for
elderly and Alzheimer's patients (see SERVO, April ‘ 11). We get it. But it's still creepy. SV
The Last Moment Robot sends a patient
on her final path.
SERVO 09.2012 9