Hero Surg robot not only performs operations — it lets surgeons feel what it's doing

A robot named da Vinci has helped surgeons make precise incisions since 2000. The system has been hailed by many as a surgical revolution but it has one big drawback — surgeons can’t feel their way through an operation and have to rely solely on their sight. This lack of haptic feedback makes it difficult to distinguish healthy tissue from tumors, and takes away a key sense that surgeons so often depend on.

But the creators behind a new robotic system called HeroSurg hope to restore haptic feedback for surgeons to make robotic surgery safer and more precise.

“Haptic is important because it adds a further dimension to the surgeon,” Professor Suren Krishnan of Deakin University’s Institute of Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation told Digital Trends. “The surgeon in ‘normal’ non-robotic surgery uses his fingers to feel the tissues and uses this to differentiate between firm tissues involved with cancer from more normal-feeling tissue. It will also help the surgeon when dissecting tissues weakened by infection and inflammation that needs to be more delicately dissected and teased out.”

Developed in association with Harvard University’s Dr. Moshen Morandi Dalvand, the HeroSurg instruments are fitted with sensors that deliver subtle vibrations to surgeons’ hands, enabling them to sense pressure applied against the patient. The system also features an automatic collision avoidance feature, which ensures that the robotic arm doesn’t mistakenly bump into its surroundings.

Interestingly, despite what many doctors seem to suggest, a recent study found that robot-assisted surgery was about equal to surgery performed by a human when it came to a patient’s recovery time.

HeroSurg is still in its development phase and won’t be clinically available for at least another two years, said Krishnan. Still, he’s optimistic that the system will offer a competitively priced and valuable option for robotic surgery.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Lincoln revives its coolest-ever design feature for limited-edition Continental

The 1961 Lincoln Continental became a design icon thanks to center-opening "coach doors" (also known as "suicide doors"). Lincoln is bringing those doors back for a special edition of the 2019 Continental.
Emerging Tech

‘Crop duster’ robot is helping reseed the Great Barrier Reef with coral

In a world first, an undersea robot has delivered microscopic coral larvae to the Great Barrier Reef. Meet Larvalbot: the robot "crop duster" which dispenses coral babies on troubled reefs.
Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

Researchers create a flying wireless platform using bumblebees

Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a novel way to create a wireless platform: using bumblebees. As mechanical drones' batteries run out too fast, the team made use of a biology-based solution using living insects.
Emerging Tech

Meet the MIT scientist who’s growing semi-sentient cyborg houseplants

Elowan is a cybernetic plant that can respond to its surroundings. Tethered by a few wires and silver electrodes, the plant-robot hybrid can move in response to bioelectrochemical signals that reflect the plant’s light demands.
Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.
Emerging Tech

Beautiful image of young planets sheds new light on planet formation

Researchers examining protoplanetary disks -- the belts of dust that eventually form planets -- have shared fascinating images of the planets from their survey, showing the various stages of planet formation.
Emerging Tech

Delivery robot goes up in flames while out and about in California

A small meal-delivery robot suddenly caught fire in Berkeley, California, on Friday. The blaze was quickly tackled and no one was hurt, but the incident is nevertheless a troubling one for the fledgling robot delivery industry.
Emerging Tech

MIT’s smart capsule could be used to release drugs in response to a fever

Researchers have developed a 3D-printed capsule which can monitor patients' vital signs, transmit this information to a connected device, and release drugs in response to symptoms.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.
Features

Cities looking to get smart take a lesson from an iconic shopping mall

From Disney World to the Mall of America, public venues are becoming microcosms for smart city projects. We dove into both, to show what government officials can learn – and what you can expect from your city.