Sony and Harvard launch origami-inspired surgeon robot

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Engineers at Sony and the Harvard Wyss Institute in the United States have created a mini-robot the size of a tennis ball and the weight of a penny, the skills of which can be used to improve accuracy and control in surgical procedures. The novelty was described in an article recently published in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence.

Called miniRCM, the tiny robot surgeon was inspired by origami, traditional Japanese secular art, and built using a technique developed by Harvard professor Robert Wood. The materials, arranged on top of each other and cut by laser, formed a 3D structure, which has three linear actuators to control the movements, in various directions.

To test his ability to perform teleoperative surgery, the researchers connected him to a device that simulates hand movements by controlling a pen-like tool. He managed to be 68% more accurate when drawing a small square than the procedure performed manually. See below:

In addition, the mini robot was successful in participating in a simulated surgical procedure, in which the doctor needs to insert a needle through the eye to reach the small veins at the back of the eyeball. Using a silicone tube twice as thick as a hair as a retinal vein, the device was able to pierce it with the needle without causing damage or breakage.

Other benefits

In addition to the proven effectiveness in the initial tests, showing greater stability than human hands, the miniRCM is also easy to configure and install. And in case of complication or lack of electrical power, its removal from the patient’s body can be done easily.

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Even with these benefits, it is not yet known when the mini-robot inspired by an origami will be in the operating rooms, replacing the current surgical robots, which in some cases even occupy the entire space of the room.


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