How do you reach the heart without opening the entire chest, or reach a tumor site with minimal invasion? There are several ways, but nothing compares to this high precision robotic snakebot. Howie Choset, a Carnegie Mellon University roboticist who has been working on snake-like robots for decades, has developed an ultra-slim snakebot that can crawl inside a small incision and perform precision surgery on your heart or excise prostate tumors. With Choset’s snakebot, the surgeon makes a keyhole incision, inserts the snakebot in and with a remote control guides it to the targeted organ, where it then emmits a radiowave to zap heart tissue that is causing irregular heartbeats. The diameter of the robot’s head is less than 18 mm, it has 102 joints, a camera, and an ability to slither around organs with amazing precision. The technology so far has been successfully tested on pigs, and will soon be going into human trials. In the future, robotics will play a huge part in automated healthcare surgery.
Howie Choset is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. His research includes snakebots, or robots designed in a segmented fashion to mimic snake-like actuation and motion, demining, and coverage. In 2002, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.