I have long wanted to write about the Surgenius robot, a teleoperated system developed by Surcial Robotica S.p.A. in cooperation with the University of Verona (but they asked me not to do so). The beta prototype is ready for more advanced trials, getting the CE mark within a month. The group has been developing the robot for over 3 years, and now looking for strategic investors. The main advantage claimed are the compact size, the modularity of the system, the strerilizable tools and the price--of course.
The development of Surgenius technically dates back to the mid-'90s, when Paolo Fiorini was working with Antal Bejczy at NASA JPL on the RAMS system. The Robot-Assisted Micro-Surgery (RAMS) system consisted of two 6 DOF arms, equipped with 6 DOF tip-force sensors, providing haptic feedback to the operator. It used a kinematically identical master controller; however, the operator sits right next to the slave arms. The robot was originally aimed for ophthalmic procedures, especially for laser retina surgery. It was capable of 1:100 scaling (achieving 10 micron accuracy), tremor ﬁltering (8–14 Hz) and eye tracking. Interestingly, it was only initiated as a side project, using some left-over funds in the robotics lab, Tony and his team developed the system within a year relying on Steve Charles basic ideas. (Learn more about it here.) When they were ready, Intuitive got interested in the technology, and acquired all the documentation (in return of the placement of one of the furst da Vincis in a nearby military hospital.) The original RAMS prototype rested idle at JPL (as of 2008), since the project was discontinued. However it got licensed by a company in New Mexico, but not much happened... Until Paolo picked up the thread, and developed the Surgenius with his team; and now they also have a Medical Center to collaborate with.
More news to come!
Credit: Surgica Robotica