Soon, robots to replace army medics on battleground

March 5th, 2009 - 5:55 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Mar 5 (ANI): Robots may soon replace army medics on the battlefield, say researchers.

Scientists hope to replace Mobile Army Surgical Hospital with “Trauma Pod” including robot surgeons and nurses, in the next 10 years.

The three-armed surgical robot, being developed by Pentagon’’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is currently under trials.

It is assisted by 12 other robotic systems, including a voice-activated “Hot Lips”, the nickname given to chief nurse Major Margaret Houlihan in 70s hit TV series M*A*S*H.

Its single arm passes instruments to the robot surgeon and disposes of used equipment.

A third “circulating nurse” robot gives out right tools, while the Pod’’s bed monitors vital signs and administers fluids and oxygen.

The purpose of the Trauma Pod is to provide a quick “temporary fix” to wounded soldiers before being taken to the hospital.

“The system will focus on damage control surgery, the minimum necessary to stabilise someone. It could provide airway control, relieve immediate life-threatening injuries such as a collapsed lung, or stop bleeding temporarily,” the Telegraph quoted Pablo Garcia, from project leaders SRI International, based in Menlo Park, California, US as telling New Scientist magazine.

The surgeon robot, remote-controlled by a human from a distance away, will communicate with and instruct the other robots.

One of its three arms holds an endoscope to allow the human controller to see inside the patient, while the other two grip surgical tools.

Garcia added robot could be allowed to carry out some simple tasks without human help, such as placing stitches or tying knots.

It has successfully passed the first phase of a feasibility trial where they treated a mannequin with bullet injuries by inserting a plastic rube into a damaged blood vessel and operating to close a perforated bowel.

“Three separate robots dance over the top of the patient with their powerful arms moving very quickly, yet they don”t crash and they”re able to deliver very small items from one arm to another, said Brendan Visser, a surgeon at Stanford University in California who helped develop the Trauma Pod.

The team hopes to shrink the Trauma Pod and all its robots to a collapsible unit encased in a shell that can be carried on the back of a vehicle. Eventually the bed will act as an anaesthetist, using a robotic arm to insert intravenous lines and deliver drugs. (ANI)

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