'Robo Hands'

The 'robo-hands' that can be worn by surgeons to remotely control surgical tools INSIDE patients' bodies

By Seweryn and Ziggy


Scientists have developed ‘robo-hands’, which can be worn by surgeons to remotely control tools inside patients’ bodies during surgeries.                                                                                 

The exo-skeleton device – created by researchers at Bristol’s University of the West of England – will fit over the surgeons’ hands to enable them to perform keyhole operations. Wearers will control a ‘gripper’ with the thumb and fingers, and will even be able to feel the tissues and organs through the ‘hands’.            

The £3.5 million project will also develop ‘smart glasses’ to be worn by surgeons, allowing them to see inside the body, and position themselves anywhere in the operating theatre.                                                                                      

A current prototype has been created by researchers at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, and is being developed further with the help of the university. Professor Sanja Dogramadzi, from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, said “we want to give existing processes a more natural interface - operating surgeons will not have to do any unusual or unnatural movement”.                                              

She added: “The other part of our system will be smart multi-functional glasses, which will relay live images from inside the body.                                                               

“This is an advancement compared to current systems, which use a flat TV-like screen to relay images back to the surgeon.  

“The research will use the expertise and feedback of senior surgeons to develop the tools.”                                                                                                                                    

We interviewed two people with a large age gap, so that we could see contrasting beliefs and experiences concerning technology in the modern world. First, we interviewed Peter Etheredge, a Year 9 student.

“Have you heard about the ‘Robotic Hands’ that have been developed for use in surgery?”                                                                                            

“No, I hadn’t, but I have now.”                                                                    

“What is your opinion on this development?”                                      

“These hands sound useful and I think it is a good development.”                                                                                                          

“Do you think that if technology continues to advance like it is, the world will become a better place, and that there will be more opportunities for the new and younger generations?”                                                                                                            

“I think that it’ll be amazing, and as a part of the younger generation, it will be good for my future as well.”                                                                                                                   

“Do you think that these hands could help you in your life if you ever needed them?”                                                                                                                 

“I think that if I ever needed any type of surgery these would help a lot and would reassure me that I could recover.”                                                                              

Secondly, we interviewed Mr. Mirams, a Science teacher at All Saints Academy.                                                                            

“Have you heard about the ‘Robotic Hands’ that have been developed for use in surgery?”                                                                                                                                    

“I hadn’t. I’ve read something similar, but not about this. It is awesome.”                                                                                                          

“What is your opinion on this development?”                                                    

“To be able to do skilled, refined surgery with these sorts of tools, it’s incredible and even better that it’s in Bristol”                                                          

“Do you think that if technology continues to advance like it is, the world will become a better place, and that there will be more opportunities for the new and younger generations?”                                                                                                           

“With opportunities like this, the younger generations are going to have the opportunity to gain mobility. Think, these exoskeleton-like hands could be used for people who have disabilities, or conditions that prevent them from having the physical strength to do these things. It’s a massive, massive advancement that will benefit everyone: young and old.”                                 

“When you were a child did you ever think that technology would advance as much as it has?”              

“I grew up before the year 2000, and when I was a child, everyone had the dream that in the year 2000 we would all be flying around in hover cars and having robot butlers. That didn’t come true, but actually we’re starting to see this. It is what you used to read in Science Fiction. There is that part of me that says yes we did hope for advanced technology, but we never thought it would be real, and yet, now, we’re starting to see that it’s a reality, so that’s cool.”