Sunday, July 8, 2007

Surgical Robots: R2D2 to the Rescue & The Visible Human Project

Robotic Surgery

The Standford University Medical Center's Thomas Krummel gave a speech entitled "Surgical Robotics: Is R2D2 in Your Future?" on March 23, 2006. You can watch his speech on the Research Channel, a great web site that aggregates videos and audio from hundreds of universities. Here is the link:

He mentions science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov's three laws of robots that appeared in his book, I, Robot.

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

He said that these laws are used in modern products.

More information about robotic surgery is here:

Mentioned in the presentation are several robotic surigical systems:

  • The da Vinci Surgical System
  • ZEUS Robotic Surgical System
  • AESOP Robotic System

You can read more about these at How Stuff Works also:

The da Vinici Surgical System

Frontiers of Medicine features a show about Robotic Surgery:

Here is a page about the Zeus surgical system:

The degree to which 3D imaging and information technology is changing the face of surgery is astonishing. I know some young people very interested in getting into medical professions. It is going to be very important for them to understand many things, including both human interaction and robot operation and technology.

3D animations are being used to educate doctors about the human body. Here is a very compelling animation:

Find many more animations on Nucleus Animation's YouTube channel here:

The Visible Human Project

The Visible Human Project is amazing. You can read all about it on the project web page at:

Here is a 16 second clip that shows what doctors can do using software built on the Visible Human Project data sets:

I recommend the Frontiers of Medicine 30 minute episode all about the history of the Visible Human Project. I purchased it for $1.99 to watch it. It's well worth a couple of books to learn about this. Here is the link:

You don't have to be a doctor to get access to the Visible Human Project software, you can slice and dice the human body in three dimensions on your own by logging into this web site:


If you are an aspiring surgeon or computer graphics student, just imagine the world of possiblities and responsibilities that can await you if you learn about and find out more about technologies like these! The best thing for you to do would be to talk to teachers, guidance counselors, parents, friends, and mentors about how to learn more about things you need to do to prepare yourself for college and the life you'd like to make for yourself. It's going to require commitment and education, but the sooner you get started, the better you will be.

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