Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Robot Medics

The Pentagon is funding research into a mobile "trauma pod", which could perform surgery on wounded soldiers on the battlefield. The idea is to provide even more frontline care to the injured via telepresence. The trauma pod would be wirelessly connected to a surgeon who would control the pod from the rear. The benefit is more access to first aid for the troops and increased protection for surgeons- losing a pod to enemy fire won't be anywhere near as costly as losing a skilled surgeon.

The most remarkable thing about the story is not that the US Army is considering the use of a "robot medic", it's that they caution that the technology won't be on the battlefield for ten more years. Ten years is a pretty short time for this kind of technology to be deployed in my opinion, especially when one considers that the initial research grant calls for the stitching together of two blood vessels. Telepresence surgery does happen now as the article reports but it needs a team of people to man the machine and the surgeon is not wirelessly connected. More information can be found via the links at DefenseTech (of course).

Once again America proves to be a powerhouse of ideas and innovation.

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