Autonomous Surgery from JHU

Surgical robotics took a step forward today with the publishing of autonomous surgery results from Johns Hopkins in Science Translational Medicine. The authors present promising results using a Kuka robotic arm and a suturing tool to perform anastamosis under supervised autonomy. Our Cofounder Blake Hannaford provides perspective in this article from Geekwire.

Blake is no stranger to supervised autonomy, and we’ve pursued the idea as a means of dealing with the difficulties of time delay. For instance, if a ground-based operator can give high level guidance to a mouse dissection robot on the ISS, the robot can perform autonomously for discrete actions like cutting, grasping, and moving.

How would you feel if a surgeon told you that he’d sit back and let the robot do all the work?

Hamlyn Symposium 2016

Working at a startup means constant changes, but we’ve been fortunate to have one constant in our lives: our  annual trip to Imperial College London for the Hamlyn Symposium on medical robotics. It’s no coincidence that the Hamlyn Centre was our first RAVEN customer, the Hamlyn Centre is at the heart of surgical robotics innovation in Europe. We’re excited to be attending again this summer and we’re looking forward to catching up with everyone. Let us know if you’ll be attending so that we can make sure to have some goodies for you.

RAVENs around the world

RAVEN Sites as of Spring 2016
RAVEN Sites as of Spring 2016

Since our last community update we’ve shipped robots to three more schools! There are a total of 18 RAVEN labs on three continents with a total of more than twenty RAVEN robots. The newest members of our list are the Chongqing Institute for Green and Intelligent Technology (China), the University of Southern Denmark (Odense), and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. These new sites and many of the established RAVEN sites have been working on all sorts of fascinating new approaches to robotics and surgical applications.

 

California has the highest concentration of RAVENs followed by Seattle. If your region seems underrepresented, get in touch!

The RAVEN on TV and in the news

Photo from the Heartbeat episode "The Land of Normal" (Credit: NBC / Universal Television)
Photo from the Heartbeat episode “The Land of Normal” (Credit: NBC / Universal Television)

The RAVEN and Surgical Cockpit were featured on NBC’s Heartbeat last week! With the hardware and expertise of Ji Ma from Jacob Rosen’s lab at UCLA and Andrew from Applied Dexterity, NBC was able use just a bit of TV magic to film a dramatic presentation of the potentials of teleoperation. The episode features the special purple RAVEN 4-armed system that were the original prototypes for the first run on RAVEN II. The RAVEN IV setup was designed to investigate collaborative surgery between two surgeons at remote sites. The Heartbeat writers found some other uses of the spare pair of arms. You can watch the episode here and read a great article about surgical robots from Seattle’s Geekwire.

 

 

 

Applied Dexterity goes to NASA

We’ve been working with NASA for a few years in an effort to send the RAVEN to the International Space Station. NASA approached us with the opportunity to replace manual rodent dissections by astronauts with ground-based teleoperation of a modified RAVEN system. After several feasibility studies, Applied Dexterity was asked to bring a RAVEN to Johnson Space center to demonstrate ground-based operator training and performance under realistic time delay of one second.

After setting up the robot, we got the chance to tour NASA’s robotics facilities and check out a lot of their new and old robots, vehicles, and assistive technologies (http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/er4/).

The week consisted of training NASA personnel to use the robot and culminated in a timed demo of the proposed robotic procedures with time delay in front of astronauts and other high level NASA employees. You can read more about the project in KQED’s coverage and our earlier article in IEEE Pulse.

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Andy and John hanging out with the collection of robots and vehicles at JSC’s robotics hanger.
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Andy, John, and Dave with the NASA “meatball” in the same room that Apollo astronauts were placed for debrief after their missions.
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Dave and John in front of the refurbished Saturn V rocket in Rocket Park.
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A NASA consultant trains to use the RAVEN with standard block transfers before attempting rodent dissections.

Welcome John!

Applied Dexterity welcomes its newest employee, Dr. John Raiti, who is a senior research engineer.  John comes to us from Brown University where he earned his PhD in Biomedical Engineering. He was funded through a NASA EPSCoR grant as a robotics research scientist in the Department of Computer Science at Brown. He designed, created, and implemented web-browser interfaces for a variety of robotic platforms to improve human-robot interaction. John will be assisting Applied Dexterity engineers in developing surgical robot technologies for NASA and other customers.

Start up essentials

We’ve finally entered the coveted status belonging to only of a distinct group of start ups in Seattle – our office now has a functional and well-used espresso machine. The new machine joins our broad range of brewed beverage technology. Let us know if you’d like to visit our office to sample some espresso or aeropress coffee while talking about robots. Coffee is meant to be shared.

AD’s Official Guide to Enjoying Seattle

With ICRA 2015 in Seattle, we’re beyond excited to host the robotics community in our own front yard. In that spirit, we present our favorite things to do, eat, and drink around Seattle. Beware, all of these places are vegetarian-friendly. If you want customized suggestions, ask us at our booth, #529!

Seattle Neighborhood

Food

Downtown

Pike Place Market – What guide to Seattle doesn’t start with Pike Place? It’s a great place to get some local flavors – art, chocolate, tourists, and plenty of free food samples.

It’s hard to walk in any direction without finding a decent restaurant, but I haven’t done that yet, so you’ll have to make your own adventure!

Capitol Hill

In The Bowl – Right on Olive St, this place has great vegetarian Thai food.

Kedai Makan – Just a few blocks, Kedai serves delicious Malaysian street food.

Big Marios – Awesome spot to grab a big slice of pizza before or during a concert on the hill.

Honey Hole – Some of the best sandwiches around.

Fremont

Silence Heart Nest – Vegetarian diner open for breakfast and lunch.

Brouwers Cafe – The best beer selection in town, and great food.

Cafe Turko – Incredible Turkish food.

Theo’s chocolate – Local fair trade chocolate manufacturer with tours and a shop with free samples. Closes at 6 PM. Take some home for your friends. Stop at Brouwers afterwards.

Ballard

Jhan Jay – Vegetarian Thai food (also in Wallingford).

Patxi’s – One of several good pizza places on Market St.

Full Tilt – Ice Cream shop + pinball and arcades. Ice cream counts as a meal. They also offer four vegan flavors.

University District

Saigon Deli – The best Vietnamese Sandwiches in Seattle at a great casual hole in the wall near the university.

Chili’s South Indian Restaurant – Best place around for some great dosa.

Veggie Grill – Vegan “fast” food in University Village- very comfort. such delicious. wow.

Din Tai Fung – a well-regarded worldwide chain of Taiwanese dumpling houses. If you didn’t get a chance to try it at ICRA 2014 in Hong Kong, try to visit this one. It’s the closest restaurant to Applied Dexterity Headquarters!

 

Beer

Downtown

 

Chuck’s hop shop – Bottle shop and tap room. Great place to get some Seattle souvenirs.

Pike Place brewery – They’ve got beer, but there’s gotta be a better brewery downtown – if not, go to Fremont or Ballard or SoDo.

Capitol Hill

 

Pine Box – Cool beer bar in an old funeral home – conveniently located on Pike and Pine.

Fremont

 

Fremont Brewery – If the sun is out or even almost out, this place will be mobbed with Seattlites taking advantage of the weather to sit outside and drink fabulous local beer.

Outlander – If you’re interested in the unbridled creativity of local nano-brewers, this is the place. Where else can you get a basil IPA?

Schillling Cider House – One of a few cider bars in Seattle, this place is only a few blocks from Turko Cafe – combine for a great evening. Get a flight so you can try some wacky ciders. The Cold Brew (Coffee) Cider is one of our favorites.

Ballard

 

Anywhere – Ballard has an ever-growing number of nano-breweries with incredible beer.  We suggest Populuxe, since it’s right across the street from one of our machinists and has great beer and outdoor seating (and usually a food truck!). You can hit several more breweries on your walk towards central Ballard. Some of the smaller breweries are only open Thurs-Sun.

Ballard Beer Company is a great one-stop bar to check out with many Ballard and Seattle beers. Bring your own food from the burger place next door or any of the great restaurants on Market St.

University District

 

College inn – The quintessential local bar for grad students and professors. It’s located underneath an actual inn and allows you to escape that bright orb in the sky. Good beer selection and great veg chilli.

Big Time – It’s a BioRobotics lab favorite and it makes ok beer. Try to get Blake to take you!

Staying Active

Discovery Park – A large, nice park for hiking or running on a peninsula to the northwest of downtown.

Burke Gilman Trail – rent a bike and go for a ride on one of the best bike trails in the country. This is how I ride to work (almost) every day! You can even take the trail past the University all the way to the Red Hook brewery.

Hiking – In order of difficulty, these are the classic nearby hikes: Rattlesnake Ledge, Little Si, Mt Si. They’re all gorgeous.

Olympic Peninsula – Those mountains you see over the water from downtown are the Olympic Mountains, part of the temperate rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula. If you have a car and plenty of time, take the ferry and explore!

Climbing gyms

Seattle Bouldering Project – A giant bouldering gym in the international district, just south of downtown.

Stone Gardens – Classic grungy climbing gym with good top ropes and high quality bouldering.

Vertical world – this is also a climbing gym.

University – The UW has a climbing gym if you make some friends with UW students that are willing to let you in. Very inexpensive.

There’s great bouldering, sport, and trad climbing within an hour drive of Seattle. Find Andrew for some suggestions.

UW telerobotic security hacking

The past decade has seen an incredible increase in public interest in technological security, and now the RAVEN has been at the center of a discussion of security in surgical robotics. Researchers at the University of Washington BioRobotics Lab have released a paper detailing their results from a “hacking” experiment, showing that without proper network security a surgeon could have control taken or augmented. The research team, led by PhD candidates Tamara Bonaci and Jeffrey Herron and Professor Howard Chizeck, demonstrated several ways in which hijackers could potentially interfere or take control during safety-critical telerobotic operations.

Of note, however, is that this experiment has not uncovered any security flaws in robots used for human operations. Rather, the research was performed with the RAVEN robot, which is a perfect platform for uncovering theoretical safety concerns without putting any life at risk. The RAVEN’s open source code was not the focus of this study, but rather the communication system that it employs. The RAVEN’s open source code allows these researchers and others to freely discover and fix any flaws on their own and these fixes can be tested and approved before distributing to other robots.

For more information about the RAVEN or RAVEN research, please feel free to contact us at info (at) applieddexterity. The original paper and several articles can be found at these links:

original paper

sophos.com article

MIT Technology Review article

imedicalapps article

Two new members of the RAVEN community!

New Overseas sites for RAVEN
New Overseas sites for RAVEN

We are pleased to announce that Imperial College London and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) are the two newest members of the RAVEN community. Imperial College London will be using a standard RAVEN II at their Hamlyn Centre under the leadership of Professor Guang-Zhong Yang. Applied Dexterity is participating in a multi-institutional project with KIST and will provide custom RAVEN hardware for the team’s efforts to engineer a next-generation micro-surgical robot based on an open platform. These teams are the latest addition to our overseas community.

For more details, please read the Applied Dexterity Press Release.