Open-source Platform Aids Surgical Robotics Research

New surgical robots for use in research have been created through a grant from the National Science Foundation. The surgical robots were designed by groups at the University of California Santa Cruz and the University of Washington. The group at UC Santa Cruz built the robots, while the group from the University of Washington is providing the electronics and software, which work with the open-source Robot Operating System.

The open-source system was chosen to make it easier for researchers at various institutions across the U.S. to connect the robots to other devices in order to explore the possibilities for speeding up procedures, reducing errors, and improving patient outcomes. Previously, most robotics research has relied on new software created for commercial robots.

Researchers and funding agencies are tired of one-off robots – they want to pursue projects that use standardized platforms. With everyone working on the same, open-source platform we can more easily share new developments and innovations.”

— Blake Hannaford, professor of electrical engineering, University of Washington

The participants hope the open-source platform will support more useful collaboration by allowing research groups to share software and reproduce experiments.

I see huge potential in surgical robotics for incorporating new instruments, more procedures, allowing for remote surgeries, and doing collaborative surgery between multiple surgeons in different locations. Having everyone working on the same, open-source robot will help to make these happen more quickly.”

— Dr. Thomas Lendvay, associate professor of urology, University of Washington

Learn more at

More information is on the group’s blog at

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.


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