It seems that humans and robots make great teams in fields as diverse as smart manufacturing and healthcare. In the latter case, robots can enhance a surgeon’s performance and improve a patient’s safety.
Lending a helping arm
Many people know the US developed Da Vinci robotic surgical system which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000. It was designed to carry out complex surgery in a minimally invasive way. Since then, the world of robotics has continued to evolve.
Today, robotic arms or collaborative robots aka cobots are being used in different surgical processes. For example, a fully-automated, hands-free, robotically-controlled digital microscope, allows neurosurgeons to have greater and more accurate vision.
The arm is driven by tracked instrumentation and automatically moves the digital microscope to desired viewing angles, which may not be visible to the surgeon. Improved optics, provide a larger field of view, a higher depth of field and greater colour reproduction, which means it is possible to clearly see the body structures at all times.
Other cobots cut bones to remove tumours, using laser, but there are other ways to use these versatile appendages in healthcare.
Medical equipment packaging
Cobots can work rapidly, efficiently, accurately and most importantly enable a sterile environment, which is paramount for the medical equipment industry.
They can carry out a number of the processes around the heat sealing machines which package diverse medical devices, such as load and unload trays from a rotary heat sealing machine or pick up trays and move them to printing stations or package testing units.
If you stop to think of how many lab tests are carried out every day around the world it is in the billions and growing as populations age and more tests are required. Automating lab services will greatly help medical professionals treat patients more quickly and successfully. One Danish university laboratory was able to deliver 90% of tests in one hour despite a 20% workload increase thanks to two cobots, which can handle 3000 tests a day or 7-8 per minute.
Some hospitals use disinfecting robots which move autonomously to rooms once patients have been discharged to prepare the space for the next patient. They do this by bombarding the empty room with high-powered UV rays for several minutes, which kills all microorganisms.
Safe reliable cobots
As more industries automate processes and bring robots and cobots into work and living spaces, they will need to ensure that this technology is safe and reliable.
Robot manufacturers can achieve this by making their products to international standards and having their products certified to such standards.