Robot taught to sew up patients after surgery

A robot has been “taught” to sew patients back together after surgery.

Incisions must be tightly closed to aid healing and ward off infections, so to reduce the space for error, scientists from the University of California in Berkeley have created Motion2Vec.

Read more: Two Plays on Robot-Assisted Surgery

The semi-supervised device “learnt” how to stitch surgical incisions by watching YouTube videos of doctors performing the procedure, breaking down their movements and then mimicking them.

Although the technology is in its infancy, the scientists hope Motion2Vec will one day support doctors by closing relatively simple incisions.

Surgical incisions have to be tightly closed to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection. (Getty Images)
YouTube videos were chosen due to hundreds of hours of material being uploaded to the site every minute.

“There’s a lot of appeal in learning from visual observations, compared to traditional interfaces for learning in a static way or learning from [mimicking] trajectories, because of the huge amount of information content available in existing videos,” lead developer Dr Ajay Tanwani told Engadget.

To ensure Motion2Vec could make sense of what it was watching, the scientists built an artificial intelligence (AI) network.

In simple terms, the robot’s arms could then be matched to the movements of the doctors’ limbs while sewing a patient up.
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