Skip to main content

Who needs a nurse? This robot can extract and analyze your blood


Watch out: Bloodthirsty robots could be on their way to a place near you. On the bright side, they may be willing to trade a cookie for your precious bodily fluids. At least, that is what we’re hoping is the result of a new robotic blood-taking device that is designed for inserting intravenous needles into people’s arms with the purpose of drawing and then analyzing blood samples.

Developed by researchers from Rutgers University, the robotic device is comprised of three subsystems. First up is a robotic venipuncture device, which uses near-infrared and ultrasound imaging to localize blood vessels, image analysis to reconstruct the vessels in 3D, and then miniaturized robotics to place a needle in the center of the indicated vein. Once a blood sample has been taken, it is then moved — using a sample handling module — to an analysis unit. This part of the system provides blood measurements using a miniaturized centrifuge and microscope. At present, it can perform a three-part white blood cell differential and hemoglobin measurement.

Max Balter

“Diagnostic blood testing is the most common medical routine performed in the world, and forms the cornerstone of modern medicine,” Dr. Max Balter, who led the research, told Digital Trends. “In the U.S., for example, blood tests are performed 2 billion times each year and influence 80 percent of medical decisions made in hospital and primary care settings. However, blood draw success rates depend heavily on practitioner skill and patient physiology, and diagnostic results are generated almost exclusively in centralized labs from large-volume blood samples using labor-intensive analytical techniques. Our team at Rutgers University has developed a device that enables end-to-end testing by performing blood draws and providing diagnostic results in a fully automated fashion. By reducing turnaround times, the device has the capacity to expedite hospital workflow, allowing practitioners to devote more time to treating patients.”

So far, the robot has only been tested on artificial arms to demonstrate that it works effectively. The next step is to evaluate the safety of the venipuncture device in a small human feasibility study. This will allow the team to evaluate the design, form factor, and usability of the device. Ultimately, the hope is that technology such as this could be used to combine blood drawing and laboratory testing in a one-stop-shop of point-of-care testing.

A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal Technology.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Your next therapy dog could be a biomimetic robot
MiRo-E biomimetic robot along with therapy dog Tallulah

Having an animal as a companion can be helpful for dealing with a whole range of psychological and physical health issues, especially among children. But not everyone is able to keep a pet. Now, a new study shows that spending time with a robotic dog as a companion can bring many of the same benefits as spending time with a real dog.

The research, performed at the University of Portsmouth, is published in the International Journal of Social Robotics. It found that when a group of 11- and 12-year-old children spent two sessions with the biomimetic MiRo-E robot dog, they experienced many of the same positive emotions as when they spent time with a real therapy dog.

Read more
How robotic exoskeletons can help paraplegic patients heal from injuries
Gordon Cheng, Professor for Cognitive Systems, wants to dig deeper in understanding how the brain works.

Gordon Cheng, Professor for Cognitive Systems, wants to dig deeper in understanding how the brain works. Astrid Eckert / TUM

When a team of neuroscientists fitted paraplegic patients with exoskeletons, they hoped the patients could use the robotic assistance to walk. They found something even more remarkable: Using the exoskeleton helped their healing, with patients regaining some control over their legs.

Read more
New ‘A.I. lawyer’ analyzes your emails to find moneysaving loopholes
Joshua Browder parking ticket legal robot

Email systems have gotten smarter. Whether it’s filtering out spam, prioritizing the messages we need to respond to, reminding us when we’ve forgotten to include a mentioned attachment, or suggesting appropriate responses, 2020 email has come a long way from the basic inboxes of yesteryear. But there’s still further they can go -- and Joshua Browder, the creator of the robot lawyer service DoNotPay, believes he’s come up with a way to make email even more user-friendly. (Hint: It involves saving people money.)

Browder, for those unfamiliar with him, is the legal tech genius who has been creating automated legal bots for the past several years. Whether it’s helping appeal parking fines (where the original DoNotPay name came from) or aiding people in gaining unemployment benefits, he’s focused on one consumer rights area after the other to disrupt through automation.

Read more