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Health & Medicine

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
Image: MIT CSAIL

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.

Snake robot at the Robotics institute. Credit: Jiuguang Wang/Flickr

The biblical narrative of the Garden of Eden describes how the snake became the most cursed of all beasts: “you shall walk on your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.” The reptile’s eternal punishment is no longer feared but embraced for its versatility and flexibility. The snake is fast approaching as one of the most celebrated robotic creatures for roboticists worldwide in out maneuvering rovers and humanoids.

by   -   June 21, 2017
Image: MIT News

Laparoscopy is a surgical technique in which a fiber-optic camera is inserted into a patient’s abdominal cavity to provide a video feed that guides the surgeon through a minimally invasive procedure. Laparoscopic surgeries can take hours, and the video generated by the camera — the laparoscope — is often recorded. Those recordings contain a wealth of information that could be useful for training both medical providers and computer systems that would aid with surgery, but because reviewing them is so time consuming, they mostly sit idle.

The Baxter robot hands off a cable to a human collaborator — an example of a co-robot in action. Photo credit: Aaron Bestick, UC Berkeley.

The key takeaway from Tuesday’s RobotLabNYC forum, on “Exploring The Autonomous Future,” was humans are the key to robot adoption. Dr. Howard Morgan of First Round Capital expressed to the audience of more than 100 innovators working within the automation ecosystem, the necessity of embracing “entrepreneurial marketing” to reach customers. Tom Ryden echoed Morgan’s sentiment in his presentation about Mass Robotics, conveying his startups’ frustrations with the pace of adoption. Dr. Eric Daimler, formerly of the Obama Administration, concluded the evening succinctly by exclaiming, “we only adopt what we trust.” Trust is key for crossing the chasm.



ICRA 2017 Company Showcase
December 10, 2017


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