Robot Surgeons Coming Soon, to a Future Battlefield Near YouMar. 29, 2016
As the bleeding soldier screams, the medic arrives on his mag-lev hoverboard, unstraps a surgical robot from his back and flips the switch. The medic trains the robot's camera on an injury. Using its built-in satphone, the robot calls a medical hub on the other side of the planet. A doctor watching the feed instructs the robot how to operate on the soldier, using minimally invasive technologies, insofar as possible.
That's futuristic, but not very. The American army for one thinks it's realistic, which is one reason for the money pouring into robotics. The main snag in the scenario is less the levitating skateboard or scalpel-wielding bot and more whether the satellite phone will be working.
"Technology can bring modern medicine anywhere in the world, if there's a communications system," smiles Alon Wolf, a professor at the Technion University's Mechanical Engineering faculty. More exotically, he's working on robots, with a focus on medical robots. His son the mechanical doctor.
"Think about a specialist doctor doing thousands of operations a year, working from his own hub, not flying about," he suggests. "The robots could be placed throughout the third world and operated by a doctor logging in, supported by a local medical team in case something goes wrong."
Wolf will be chairing the Robotics’ Role in Healthcare section of the IATI-Biomed conference, May 24 to 26 in Tel Aviv.