Watch this tiny robot uses its pincers to perform a cataract surgery and — oh my god, stop, keep it away from my eyeballs!
If you can stand to watch it through your laced fingers, it's a pretty amazing little dude. Called Axsis, the robot was designed by Cambridge Consultants and showed off earlier this week. Its body is the size of a soda can and its instruments measure only 1.8 millimeters in diameter. It's made to perform one of the most common surgeries —cataract correction.
This miniature eye-probing bot is meant to provide greater precision and less human error than a doctor's fleshy fingers, but it still relies on a human surgeon controlling it using joysticks, with some help from motion-sensing algorithms. "That computer can recognize when the surgeon's about to make a motion that's gonna go outside and puncture the lens, for example, and stop that motion," Chris Wagner, head of advanced surgical systems at Cambridge Consultants, says in this video from Reuters and CCTV News:
It's controlled by ultra-thin "tendon-like cables," the width of human hair but stronger than kevlar or steel. NASA uses this stuff—gel spun polyethylene—on some of their solar sails, Wagner says.
Axsis' small size could make it more cost-efficient and accessible to hospitals and surgical programs that might not be able to fund or house expensive, room-dominating robots like the da Vinci system. It could open up a new world of miniature robotics in the operating room.
Your eyes are safe from this itty-bitty bot for now — it'll take years of research and development, along with funding, to get this anywhere near a human cornea.
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