Google and healthcare company Johnson & Johnson are working on developing surgical robots, which use artificial intelligence. In order to accomplish this, the life sciences division of Google will work alongside Johnson & Johnson’s medical device company, Ethicon. The collaboration will create a robotics-assisted surgical platform that is designed to assist medical personnel and surgically trained doctors in an operating theatre environment.

The AI robots will be designed to aid the surgeon in minimally invasive operations. This would give greater control, speed and accuracy than is possible by human hand and the robot assisted procedures would minimise trauma and damage to the patient. There would also be some systems that could allow surgeons to remotely control devices inside a patient’s body. This kind of procedures would minimise entry wounds and reduce blood loss and the scarring that comes with surgery.

There are already robotic surgical systems like the Da Vinci device, which has been developed by Imperial College London, which has been used in surgical operations for the last decade or so.

Scientists at Google believe they can increase the skills of robotic tools by using artificial intelligence technologies. These technologies would include machine vision and image analysis that are used in other projects, including Google’s self-driving vehicle.

Both Google and Ethicon will be exploring how advanced sensors and imaging would be able to complement a surgeon and their abilities. Some of the things that could be accomplished would be tasks such as highlighting blood vessels, nerve cells, tumours or other things that may be hard to discern in tissue by looking on a screen. These systems could also be coupled with augmented reality technology that could overlay important information that would be required during surgery.

Andy Conrad, head of the life sciences team at Google, said, “We look forward to exploring how smart software could help give surgeons the information they need at just the right time during an operation.”

It is likely to be Google that will provide the software and their expertise in data analysis, but doubtful that they will develop the control mechanisms for the robots.

[image via slideshare]

SOURCE: The Guardian