Biomedical Robots Operated From Different Locations Via the Internet

by Tanya Thomas on Sep 21 2009 8:43 AM

In a bid to standardize the way biomedical robots are managed over the Internet, experts from the University of Washington and SRI International have jointly developed a new software protocol.

Nine research teams from universities and research institutes around the world recently made a successful demonstration of biomedical robots operated from different locations in the U.S., Europe, and Asia with the help of the 'Interoperable Telesurgical Protocol'.

In a 24-hour period, each participating group connected over the Internet, and controlled robots at different locations.

The tests performed demonstrated how a wide variety of robot and controller designs can seamlessly interoperate, allowing researchers to work together easily and more efficiently.

The demonstration also evaluated the feasibility of robotic manipulation from multiple sites, and was conducted to measure time and performance for evaluating laparoscopic surgical skills.

"Although many telemanipulation systems have common features, there is currently no accepted protocol for connecting these systems. We hope this new protocol serves as a starting point for the discussion and development of a robust and practical Internet-type standard that supports the interoperability of future robotic systems," said SRI's Tom Low.

The protocol is expected to allow engineers and designers that usually develop technologies independently, to work collaboratively, determine which designs work best, encourage widespread adoption of the new communications protocol, and help robotics research to evolve more rapidly.

Its early adoption may encourage robotic systems to be developed with interoperability in mind, and avoid future incompatibilities.

"We're very pleased with the success of the event in which almost all of the possible connections between operator stations and remote robots were successful. We were particularly excited that novel elements such as a simulated robot and an exoskeleton controller worked smoothly with the other remote manipulation systems," said Professor Blake Hannaford of the University of Washington.