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Science and Technology: Robotics

About Robotics

What is a robot? A web search for a definition of a robot reveals several types: knowledge robots (commonly referred to as “bots”), computer software robots that continuously run and respond automatically to a user’s activity, and industrial robots. A dictionary definition [Collins English dictionary] of the noun ‘robot’ is “any automated machine programmed to perform specific mechanical functions in the manner of a man.” Murphy defines an intelligent robot as a mechanical creature that can function autonomously. She notes that while a computer  may be a building block of the robot, the robot differs from a computer in that it can interact in the physical world by moving around and by changing aspects of the physical world. Source: Human-Robot Interaction: Development of an Evaluation Methodology for the Bystander Role of Interaction,  National Institute of Standards and Technology


Robotic Surgery

Robotic surgery is a method to perform surgery using very small tools attached to a robotic arm. The surgeon controls the robotic arm with a computer.

You will be given general anesthesia so that you are asleep and pain-free.

The surgeon sits at a computer station and directs the movements of a robot. Small surgical tools are attached to the robot's arms.

  • The surgeon makes small cuts to insert the instruments into your body.
  • A thin tube with a camera attached to the end of it (endoscope) allows the surgeon to view enlarged 3-D images of your body as the surgery is taking place.
  • The robot matches the doctor's hand movements to perform the procedure using the tiny instruments.

Robotic surgery is similar to laparoscopic surgery. It can be performed through smaller cuts than open surgery. The small, precise movements that are possible with this type of surgery give it some advantages over standard endoscopic techniques.

The surgeon can make small, precise movements using this method. This can allow the surgeon to do a procedure through a small cut that once could be done only with open surgery.

Once the robotic arm is placed in the abdomen, it is easier for the surgeon to use the surgical tools than with laparoscopic surgery through an endoscope.

The surgeon can also see the area where the surgery is performed more easily. This method lets the surgeon move in a more comfortable way, as well.

Robotic surgery can take longer to perform. This is due to the amount of time needed to set up the robot. Also, many hospitals may not have access to this method.

Robotic surgery may be used for a number of different procedures, including:

Robotic surgery cannot be used for some complex procedures.

Source: MedlinePlus

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