When robots become surgeons at the operating table
7/27/2023 Digitalisation News

When robots become surgeons at the operating table

A robot that operates on people - what sounds like science fiction could make work in the operating theatre easier for doctors in the future. In the research network "ForNeRo - Seamless and Ergonomic Integration of Robotics into the Clinical Workflow", researchers from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) are working together with five research institutions and five companies to develop methods for integrating assisting robots for surgery.

Prof. Dr. Franziska Mathis-Ullrich, W3 Professorship for Medical Robotics at FAU Franziska Mathis-Ullrich, W3 Professorship for Medical Robotics at FAU
So far, although robotic systems are already being used in the operating theatre, they are not optimally adapted to the procedures and conditions. The ForNeRo research network aims to improve this.

ForNeRo, as one of only two funded research networks, is intended to make it possible to anchor surgical robotics in the operating theatre and to bring the software together with humans in a meaningful way. In this way, operations can become safer and at the same time more effective. Because of its innovative research approach, the project is now being funded with around 2 million euros by the Board of Trustees of the Bavarian Research Foundation.

Teamwork with robotic systems

During operations on the eye, surgeons must work together in a very confined space, because the working area of the eye is very small. Therefore, ergonomic requirements, such as interaction between humans and robots, must be considered. The researchers also use simulations, augmented reality applications, and user interface technologies to create the most efficient workspace possible for operating theatre staff and robotic systems to work together.

"Staff need to position the robot efficiently at the patient's eye. This means we have to simulate how the surgery is done and what influences this has on the robotic assistance To integrate the robotic system, interactions also have to be analysed.", says Franziska Mathis-Ullrich, sub-project manager of ForNeRo. This includes, for example, how the system would interact with patients, the operating theatre staff, or other systems.

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