DAIOR research project: Distributed artificial intelligence for the operating theatre
In the DAIOR research project, Fraunhofer IPA is working with partners to realise the operating theatre of the future with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and robot-assisted telesurgery. The aim is to continuously analyse surgical data from multimodal sources using AI methods to support operations in real-time.
In this way, A.I.-generated data analysis can help clinical staff improve patient care in real-time and independent of location. In the interdisciplinary consortium with expertise from medicine and technology, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) is working together with the Institute of Image-Guided Surgery (IHU) and the Bosch Digital Innovation Hub (KTBW) in Stuttgart. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Local knowledge as cross-location training data for AI modelThe use of medical data is mostly limited to one location. Treatments are location-dependent because there are hardly any possibilities for data exchange in the healthcare system. Another challenge is the different formats of the data such as images, texts, and videos. These make it difficult to recognise correlations and use them for the treatment of patients. To ensure that this does not remain the case, the DAIOR project is training AI models with distributed learning approaches using the locally available knowledge.
Location-independent operations with robot-assisted telesurgeryFor location-independent robot-assisted telesurgery, an AI model is being developed in DAIOR that can compensate for delays in data communication on both sides by predicting the subsequent steps. "It works in a similar way to our brain," explains Horsch. "Our brain is constantly calculating immediately possible scenarios. The AI acts in exactly the same way." This is continuously supplied with data in real-time and is therefore able to predict the next steps and assist surgeons.
With this robot-assisted tele-surgery, operations could soon be carried out via the internet, regardless of location. This makes it possible to use free operating theatre capacities flexibly: Operations can be performed faster, and patients can receive better medical care. "This is a milestone in patient care, especially in emergency medicine, where seconds often matter, for example in the case of a heart attack or stroke," says Horsch. In addition, patients benefit from the fact that clinical staff have more time available for treatment.