Scientists at the Boston pediatric hospital have developed the first medical robot to navigate autonomously inside a living organism – a pig – to repair a damaged heart valve.
Bioengineering researcher Pierre Dupont compared the mechanism to that of a fighter plane: “the aircraft deals with routine tasks such as flying, so the pilot can concentrate on the more complex tasks of the mission.”
The robotic catheter developed in Boston and tested in a pig experiment uses an optical touch sensor that uses artificial intelligence and image processing algorithms to identify where the heart is and where it needs to go.
The surgical procedure performed in the experiment took the same time as operations in which it is a surgeon to guide the robot catheter remotely.
When the standalone robot arrived at the place where it would have to do the operation, the surgeon took control of the valve repair.
The catheter’s sensor regularly analyzes the environment around it, as insects do with the antennas, and was able to determine if it was touching blood, the cardiac wall, or a valve, and regulating the pressure exerted.
Data from images collected before the operation were introduced in algorithms that later allowed the autonomous catheter to interpret visual signals.
Pierre Dupont anticipates a future in which autonomous medical robots working around the world share data to improve everyone’s performance.
“Every doctor in the world would be working at a level of expertise and experience equivalent to the best in their field. This has always been the promise of medical robots, and autonomy may allow us to get there,” said the researcher. from the hospital.