Robots are machines that combine precise mechanics, electronics, and control to do their tasks. It must perform tasks on its own to qualify as a robot. The world of robots is incredibly varied. There are industrial robots with tedious lifestyles who spend their time welding or tightening screws. These perform a limited number of tasks, but they do them quickly and with greater accuracy than any human. There are mobile robots that can mimic the movement of an insect, a spider, or a human being. These robots can move in a variety of situations using wheels, caterpillars, or legs. Some of these robots have been successful in entering hostile situations that are fatal to all living things. The most developed travel to or have already traveled on the surface of the Moon, Venus, or Mars after covering hundreds of millions of kilometers.
Other robots that are closer to us assist with daily duties, work alongside us in the kitchen, independently search the house for even the smallest specks of dust in the corners, or facilitate the movement of those with impaired mobility. Robots put their lives (in a metaphorical sense) in danger in other spheres of human endeavor when they deactivate explosives, saving several human lives. While some assist others in performing activities that call for tremendous accuracy, as just a few instances show, there are robots that assist physicians in carrying out incredibly delicate surgical operations.
Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) have made significant strides in recent years, and they now have the potential to enhance the healthcare industry. Today robotic systems are frequently used in hospitals, for walking aid and rehabilitation, and in the care of the elderly, children, and people with disabilities. As a result of scientific and technical advancements, medical care and health services have experienced an ongoing and fast evolution. More progress has been made in the last 50 years than throughout the entire history of humanity.
The intelligent operating room integrates the deployment of medical facilities and equipment into a highly functional surgical space. It is a multi-specialty operating room that is ergonomic, equipped with integrated equipment, digital information management, and connected to the outside world. Credits: Piron Guillaume from Unsplash
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Robotics and artificial intelligence
The phrase “artificial intelligence” (AI) is a generic one that refers to the use of a computer to simulate intelligent behavior with the least amount of human involvement. However, the term AI can be used to refer to a wide range of medical concepts, including human biology, robotics, medical diagnosis, and even today’s “omics”.
The first medical robots began to appear in the 1980s, offering surgical help with robotic arm technology. Over time, computer vision and data analytics powered by AI have altered medical robots and greatly increased their capabilities in a variety of healthcare settings. The two main branches of AI in medicine are virtual and physical; the virtual branch includes informatics approaches ranging from deep learning information management to control of health management systems such as electronic health records and active physician treatment decision-making support. The best depiction of the physical branch is a robot that assists an old patient or an attending surgeon. Targeted nanorobots, a unique medicine delivery method, are also included in this section.
In order to support medical staff and improve patient care, robots are now deployed in clinical settings in addition to operating rooms. For example, to assist decrease exposure to viruses during the COVID-19 epidemic, hospitals and clinics are using robots for a far wider range of jobs including activities such as diagnosis, risk assessment, monitoring, telehealth care, disinfection, and many others. Robots will operate more independently as technology advances, eventually completing some tasks completely on their own. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals will be able to devote more time to directly caring for patients as a result.
The use of AI in surgical robotics is growing, and thanks to computer vision, surgical robots can discern between different tissue types in their field of view. For instance, modern surgical robots can assist doctors in avoiding nerves and muscles during procedures. During operations, high-definition 3D computer vision can give surgeons detailed information and improve performance. In the future, robots can perform specific tasks like suturing or other little subprocedures while the surgeon observes.
Robotics is also very important in the training of surgeons. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality simulation systems are used to teach surgical robots. Surgeons can practice treatments and hone abilities utilizing robotic controls within the virtual environment.
Healthcare robotics benefits
Intelligent therapies, frequent and individualized monitoring for patients with chronic diseases, minimally invasive operations, and social interaction for elderly patients are all made possible by medical robots. Additionally, when robots reduce workloads, nurses and other healthcare providers can contact patients more personally and show more compassion, both of which can improve patients’ long-term well-being.
The use of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) streamlines regular tasks, eases the physical burden on human workers, and promotes more reliable operations. By keeping track of inventories and timely ordering, these robots can help ensure that supplies, equipment, and medications are available where they are required, addressing staffing shortages and issues. Autonomous mobile robots make it possible for hospital rooms to be promptly cleaned and prepared for new patients, freeing up staff members to concentrate on patient centered, value-driven work.
For tedious and sensitive tasks, they are particularly effective. They can fix the surgeon’s pulse mistakes and create flawless sutures in locations that would be challenging for the doctor to reach. Additionally, the surgeon can now work remotely from the area where the robot is being used. Prior to a few years ago, these remote surgeries posed difficulties; but, because of significant advancements in communications, it is now able to communicate instantly and practically in real-time.
Robotic surgical assistants
When these robots first appeared, they were more like teleoperation devices: the surgeon would direct a movement from a control, and the robotic arm would carry it out. However, the robots did not carry out autonomous tasks. Today’s surgical robots may autonomously carry out instructions after approaching the site where a cut or suture is to be done (under the guidance and supervision of a surgeon). Today orthopedic procedures and minimally invasive torso procedures are the two main types of surgeries carried out with robotic assistance.
In the medical industry, robots are revolutionizing how procedures are carried out, speeding supply delivery and sterilization, and allowing professionals to concentrate on interacting and caring for patients. Credits: Pavel Danilyuk from pexels
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Autonomous Mobile Robots
Because they may help with essential requirements like telepresence, supplies distribution, and disinfection, AMRs are frequently used by healthcare companies. Autonomous mobile robots can self-navigate patients in exam or hospital rooms when fitted with light detection and ranging like LiDAR devices, visual computing, or mapping capabilities, enabling doctors to communicate from a distance. An AMR can accompany doctors as they perform hospital rounds if it is operated by a remote specialist or another employee. This enables the specialist to provide input via an on-screen consultation regarding patient diagnosis and management. Service robots and social robots are examples of AMRs used in healthcare.
These were created to help elderly or disabled persons with daily duties. This type of robot has sensors that monitor physiological parameters like temperature, pressure arterial, and oximetry. They also have protocols that allow contact with a family member, doctor, or nurse, if they detect that something is wrong. Most have screens that enable interaction with other people through video calls. Social robots communicate with people in person. These “friendly” robots can provide social interaction and surveillance in long-term care facilities. They might promote adherence to treatment plans or offer cognitive stimulation, keeping patients attentive and upbeat. In the hospital setting, they can also be utilized to provide visitors and patients with directions. Generally speaking, social robots assist in easing caregiver burdens and enhancing patients’ emotional health.
Although today a robot cannot completely replace human warmth, there are some situations in which this lack of compassion is advantageous. Some people need assistance going to the bathroom and washing, but if assistance is given by another person, they could feel ashamed. They could feel more at ease if the person helping them is a machine because of this.
About MedTech: AI and medical robots course
Despite the fact that robotics has at least a 2000-year history, the last two decades have seen a notable revolution in the field of health, particularly medicine, as a result of all the changes that robotic surgery has brought about in the way that surgery is performed, taught, and practiced. Robotic surgery provides patients with adequate care and incredibly satisfying outcomes. It ensures a lesser risk of intervention and a full recovery in the shortest amount of time. It has a significant impact on medical specialties since it requires little intervention and can access areas that a human arm cannot. Although robotic surgery is already a part of our life, it will become much more prevalent soon. Health robots will continue to evolve as IA, data analytics, computer vision, and other technologies advance. To administer the intricate systems, though, a new generation of skilled experts capable of taking on future difficulties will be needed. Moreover, as human-robot interaction becomesmore prevalent every day, it is crucial to do social science and humanities research that examines the societal changes that these technologies cause in order to promote more peaceful interactions.
Shane Xie, professor of robotics and autonomous systems at the University of Leeds, develops a lesson plan as a component of a course on AI and medical robots in order to pique young people’s interest in science. The result is a collection of 12 interesting sessions that cover the most recent developments in robotic technology used in the healthcare industry. The fundamentals of this course are to provide an introduction to the field of medical and service robots, as well as their specific applications in new trends in medical and service robots. Due to the social and ethical complexity of AI and medical robots applications, the course addresses the economic value and regulations of these applications, as well the challenges of human-robot interactions, how robots can assist patients, clinicians, and the transition to post-human care. This course offers a moderate and practical pedagogical contribution that will enliven those who are interested in this stillevolving area of mechanical engineering, computing, and health sciences. From this perspective, the course has the essential thematic components that are appropriate for a fairly diverse audience, ranging from persons with no prior understanding of the subject to university students who want to pursue a professional career in this interdisciplinarity and developing field.
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