Less-invasive heart surgery isn’t a new concept, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon have applied the concept of “serpentine robotics” to improve the state of the art. Howie Choset’s lab at CMU is using the Highly Articulated Robotic Probe (HARP) to enter the thorax through a subxiphoid port and reach regions of the pericardium that are inaccessible with traditional techniques. The novelty of this robot lies in the “follow-the-leader” mechanism – when the distal link as its location set, the other 49 links follow its location, allowing the operator to “snake” around curves to reach the desired target.
Check out this video to see the HARP in action in a test surgery on a swine.
The following is from the group’s website:
“We strongly believe that HARP’s functionality will eventually lead to application such as multiple intrapericardial therapies (e.g. cell transplantation by intramyocardial injection, epicardial ablation, epicardial lead placement for resynchronization, etc).”
See the lab’s website for other interesting snake-bot applications, including search-and-rescue and bomb defusing.
Note : This isn’t the first Medgadget article about Snake Robots (would you expect any less from us?) – back in 2008, we reported on an earlier manifestation.
Tip of the hat to : Switched.com