This tiny robot could help surgeons with precise procedures

Drawing inspiration from Origami, researchers have created a surgical robot that is around the size of a tennis ball and weighs about the same as a penny. The tiny robot was built by engineers from Harvard’s Wyss Institute and Sony and was created to assist surgeons with procedures that require extreme precision.

In a microscopic tracing test, the researchers found that the tiny robot was 68 percent more accurate than a hand-controlled tool. The robot also successfully completed a mock version of a precise procedure in which a surgeon inserts a needle through an eye to “inject therapeutics into the tiny veins at the back of the eyeball.” It was able to puncture a silicone tube that replicated the retinal vein (which is about twice as thick as a hair) without causing damage.

It’ll likely be quite some time before this surgical robot is truly ready for operating theaters. Because of its size and weight, it’d be easier to set up than many other surgical robots, some of which take up a whole room. The researchers suggest it’d be easier to remove it from a patient were there any complications during a procedure.

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