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Health & Medicine

interview by   -   March 19, 2018

In this episode, Audrow Nash speaks with Maja Matarić, a professor at the University of Southern California and the Chief Science Officer of Embodied, about socially assistive robotics. Socially assistive robotics aims to endow robots with the ability to help people through individual non-contact assistance in convalescence, rehabilitation, training, and education. For example, a robot could help a child on the autism spectrum to connect to more neurotypical children and could help to motivate a stroke victim to follow their exercise routine for rehabilitation (see the videos below). In this interview, Matarić discusses the care gap in health care, how her work leverages research in psychology to make robots engaging, and opportunities in socially assistive robotics for entrepreneurship.

interview by   -   February 18, 2018

In this episode, Abate interviews Peter Harris from HighRes Biosolutions about automation in the field of drug discovery. At HighRes Biosolutions they are developing modular robotic systems that work alongside scientists to automate laboratory tasks. Because the requirements of each biomedical research laboratory are so varied, the robotic systems are specifically tailored to meet the requirements of each lab.

interview by   -   December 24, 2017

In this interview, Audrow Nash interviews Helen Huang, Joint Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State, about a method of tuning powered lower limb prostheses. Huang explains how powered prostheses are adjusted for each patient and how she is using supervised and reinforcement learning to tune prosthesis. Huang also discusses why she is not using the energetic cost of transport as a metric and the challenge of people adapting to a device while it learns from them.

interview by   -   November 24, 2017

In this episode, Audrow Nash interviews Peter Adamczyk, Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on semi-active foot and ankle prostheses. The difference is that active below-knee prostheses work to move the person’s weight, emulating the calf muscle, while semi-active devices use small amounts of power to improve the performance of the prosthesis. Adamczyk discusses the motivation for semi-active devices and gives three examples: shiftable shapes, controllable keels, and alignable ankles.

by   -   November 2, 2017
An analysis by Stanford researchers shows that the use of robot-assisted surgery to remove kidneys wasn’t always more cost-effective than using traditional laparascopic methods.
Master Video/Shutterstock

The internet hummed last week with reports that “Humans Still Make Better Surgeons Than Robots.” Stanford University Medical Center set off the tweetstorm with its seemingly scathing report on robotic surgery. When reading the research of 24,000 patients with kidney cancer, I concluded that the problem lied with the humans overcharging patients versus any technology flaw. In fact, the study praised robotic surgery for complicated procedures and suggested the fault lied with hospitals unnecessarily pushing robotic surgery for simple operations over conventional methods, which led to “increases in operating times and cost.”

interview by   -   September 30, 2017

In this episode, Audrow Nash interviews Ayanna Howard, Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, about her work to help children with the movement disorder cerebral palsy. Howard discusses how robots and tablet can be used to “gamify” pediatric therapy. The idea is that if therapy is fun and engaging children are more likely to do it, and thus, they are more likely to see the long-term benefits of the therapy. Howard discusses how therapy is “gamified,” how a small humanoid robot is used to coach children, and how they work with pediatricians.

by   -   September 4, 2017

MIT engineers have devised a way to automate the process of monitoring neurons in a living brain using a computer algorithm that analyzes microscope images and guides a robotic arm to the target cell. In this image, a pipette guided by a robotic arm approaches a neuron identified with a fluorescent stain.
Credit: Ho-Jun Suk

by Anne Trafton

Recording electrical signals from inside a neuron in the living brain can reveal a great deal of information about that neuron’s function and how it coordinates with other cells in the brain. However, performing this kind of recording is extremely difficult, so only a handful of neuroscience labs around the world do it.

Mike Salem from Udacity’s Robotics Nanodegree is hosting a series of interviews with professional roboticists as part of their free online material.

Using Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) as a way to give people with locked-in syndrome back reliable communication and control capabilities has long been a futuristic trope of medical dramas and sci-fi. A team from NCCR Robotics and CNBI, EPFL have recently published a paper detailing work as a step towards taking this technique into everyday lives of those affected by extreme paralysis.

by   -   August 9, 2017

To make it easier to diagnose and study sleep problems, researchers at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have devised a new way to monitor sleep stages without sensors attached to the body. Their device uses an advanced artificial intelligence algorithm to analyze the radio signals around the person and translate those measurements into sleep stages: light, deep, or rapid eye movement (REM).

by   -   August 4, 2017
SEM images of the hybrid soft pop-up actuators. The image has been colored in post processing to differentiate between the soft (in yellow) and the rigid structure (in blue). Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

By Leah Burrows, SEAS Communications

Flexible endoscopes can snake through narrow passages to treat difficult to reach areas of the body. However, once they arrive at their target, these devices rely on rigid surgical tools to manipulate or remove tissue. These tools offer surgeons reduced dexterity and sensing, limiting the current therapeutic capabilities of the endoscope.

A team led by Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering and of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia Engineering, has published a pilot study in Science Robotics that demonstrates a robotic training method that improves posture and walking in children with crouch gait by enhancing their muscle strength and coordination.

by   -   July 26, 2017

Singapore and MIT have been at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development. First, there were self-driving golf buggies. Then, an autonomous electric car. Now, leveraging similar technology, MIT and Singaporean researchers have developed and deployed a self-driving wheelchair at a hospital.

by   -   July 9, 2017

This week features CYBERLEGs++: The CYBERnetic LowEr-Limb CoGnitive Ortho-prosthesis Plus Plus.

A new robot under development can send information on the stiffness, look and feel of a patient to a doctor located kilometres away. Image credit: Accrea

A robotic doctor that can be controlled hundreds of kilometres away by a human counterpart is gearing up for action. Getting a check-up from a robot may sound like something from a sci-fi film, but scientists are closing in on this real-life scenario and have already tested a prototype.

Socially Assistive Robots
March 19, 2018

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