Robotic Thyroid Surgery

August 31, 2009

New uses of the da Vinci robotic system include a procedure to remove the thyroid gland without leaving a scar on the neck. In most cases, robotic surgery at the very least is less invasive and therefore more appealing from a cosmetic standpoint. Quite often, not only does it leave less scarring, but the recovery is faster and less difficult.


Roadmap to the Future Examined at Robotics Industry Forum

August 26, 2009

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association

A number of interesting forecasts about robotics are in circulation theseForum10_sidebar days, with governments and think tanks around the world paying close attention to the possibilities. Healthcare is quickly adapting to robotics on the heels of success from da Vinci robotic systems. Commercial viability for agriculture and domestic services is gaining traction with robots milking cows and cleaning floors. Many countries are funding R&D for robotics, and a few are emerging as leaders in certain sectors.

Robotic Industries Association has renowned expert Henrik Christensen, the driving force behind the U.S. roadmap for robotics, as a guest speaker at the Robotics Industry Forum, January 20-22, 2010, in Orlando, Florida. He will share insights about trends in research and development and give his views on the future of robotics.

Although it is a members-only function, the Forum is not confined to just Robotic Industries Association. It includes networking functions with members of Automated Imaging Association and Motion Control Association. This is a new networking combination designed to help speed the adaptation of new robot, machine vision and motion innovations to traditional and not-so-traditional applications.

To preview the background information about the U.S. roadmap for robotics, see “Roadmap to the Future” on Robotics Online.

Heartland Robotics to Give Amazon Upper Hand?

August 25, 2009

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association

Heartland ObreroAmazon founder Jeff Bezos appears to have a serious interest in robotics and according to reports from Vator News and Tech Flash, he is funding a new venture called Heartland Robotics from Robert Brooks, one of the visionaries that launched iRobot. Many civilians are familiar with Roomba, iRobot’s flagship vacuum robot for the masses. Perhaps not as well known is PackBot and the many military robots from iRobot that have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some have speculated that Heartland has its sites on a new type robot that would handle material in warehouses or factories. Since Amazon makes its fortune from the floors of a well oiled warehousing and distribution platform, and Brooks is an established innovator of robotics technology for non-industrial applications, this scenario has its appeal.
What little is known suggests Heartland is focused on robot technology that would have a hands-on role on the factory floor, but with more tactile capability than traditional industrial robots.

Robots Boost Telemedics

August 24, 2009

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association

InTouch RP7i_RobotA robot and a doctor can be a powerful combination for patient care. In “Robots Allow Docs to Examine Patients Who are Miles Away,” ABC News examines the trend with a case study from Baylor Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

At the same time telemedics is getting a boost from robot technology, success with new robotic surgical procedures shows promise for treating thyroid cancer, as explained by in, “New Robot-assisted Surgical Method Found Successful For Treatment Of Thyroid Cancer.”

Da Vinci Robotic Systems are a well publicized alternative to traditional surgery. The Missoulian looks at one case where a hard decision about a hysterectomy was eased somewhat by the knowledge that robotic surgery would minimize the impact on one patient’s life: “St. Patrick Hospital performs its first hysterectomy by robotics.”

See the video about robotic surgery on thyroid removal procedures…

BEAR – A Robot for Search and Rescue

August 24, 2009

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association

Military robot technology is evolving quickly in the 21st century, and thankfully, some of the advancements are geared toward saving lives and improving medical care. This includes work in search and rescue operations which is emphasized in one project known as BEAR (Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot).

CNET News brings us the story of “BEAR robot to the rescue.”

In a related story, doctors are using robot technology to monitor and treat patients from miles away in both the military and civilian populations. reports: “Medical robot makes rounds at Texas Army hospital.”

Optimism Sensed at ATI Open House

August 21, 2009

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association

As usual, ATI Industrial Automation brought together a good crowd of robot makers, integrators and users at its summer open house in Orion Township, Michigan. Guests hailed from far and wide, with interests ranging from oil drilling in Alberta, Canada to press handling in the Great Lakes states and beyond.

ATI_Tool_ChangersWith expertise in tool changers, collision sensors, deburring tools and force/torque sensors, ATI is well known in a wide variety of applications and industries. Their Michigan office, near the Palace of Auburn Hills, makes it convenient for industry giants and key players in the robotics industry to gather and exchange ideas and see old friends.

An open house like this is a good way to get insight into trends. There was a general feeling that an economic rebound is on the horizon, and if pent up demand is about to break out then ATI has many ways to help customers make up for lost time.

Is wireless technology ready for primetime in the manufacturing sector? ATI experts looked at this issue and the more traditional network backbones found in Ethernet and Profibus. How refined is robotic deburring and material removal? Thanks to ATI force/torque sensors and products like Flexdeburr and Speedeburr there are many success stories in this area.

Classic products like tool changers and collision sensors were on display as were several new devices. Some will have seen the new giant tool changer used for heavy payloads during the International Robots, Vision & Motion Control Show. Their tool changers are even used by medical robots and their new force/torque sensors work under water.

Some of ATI’s visitors have a long journey back home and others were practically within walking distance, but all were treated to a good networking event and a chance to see new technology that can make them more competitive. We were honored to see a large plaque declaring RIA membership since 1995, and salute everyone that made time in their schedule to go to their open house.

Surrogates Takes Robots Down Same Path as Blair Witch Project

August 6, 2009

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association

Hollywood is ready to create a ruckus about humanoid robots with a new Bruce Willis movie called “Surrogates.” For anyone the least bit paranoid about technology call a therapist now because even if you don’t go to the theater you’ll probably hear about it at the water cooler.

Ten years ago the promoters of “The Blair Witch Project” (1999) used bogus documentaries to whip up interest in their movie. Even after it was all revealed to be a hoax, enough curiosity lingered to power it to the top, earning the most money for an independent movie at that time. “Surrogates” appears to be following the same script but with a much bigger budget.

My hat is off to the marketers. Bruce Willis almost always delivers the goods, and it looks like they’ve done their homework on humanoid robots. The science behind the story is examined on the MTV website.

Apparently we are to believe that in the future couch potatoes will take over the world by living through surrogate robots that play, work (and who knows what else) on their behalf. Next thing you know, it has all gone wrong and one cop (Willis) must leave his home for the first time in ages to investigate the murders of others’ surrogates.