By using 3-D ultrasound and artificial intelligence, engineers at Duke University have shown that a robot can sample simulated human prostate tissue without assistance. This could lead to automated procedures in the future, sooner than later as Stephen Smith, the director of the Duke University Ultrasound Transducer Group, points out since all of the hardware used in the technology development is already commercially available. The video below shows the system in action.
The Duke team combined a “souped-up” version of an existing robot arm with an ultrasound system of its own design. The ultrasound serves as the robot’s “eyes” by collecting data from its scan and locating its target. The robot is “controlled” not by a physician, but by an artificial intelligence program that takes the real-time 3-D information, processes it and gives the robot specific commands to perform. The robot arm has a mechanical “hand” that can manipulate the same biopsy plunger device that physicians use to reach a lesion and take samples.
In the latest series of experiments, the robot guided the plunger to eight different locations on the simulated prostate tissue in 93 percent of its attempts.
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