Robotic WAM™ arm practices image-guided surgery

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 1 February 2000




(2000), "Robotic WAM™ arm practices image-guided surgery", Industrial Robot, Vol. 27 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Robotic WAM™ arm practices image-guided surgery

Robotic WAM™ arm practices image-guided surgery

Keywords: Robotics, Medical

Barrett Technology agrees to license its WAM™ arm technology to Z-KAT for exclusive worldwide sales of its medical products

Barrett Technology and Z-KAT, Inc. have signed an exclusive licence agreement giving Z-KAT the right to develop medical products worldwide based on WAM™ robotic-arm technology. WAM ™ arms are the first robots ever designed to collaborate hand-in-hand with humans. The MIT-invented human-like force control underlying WAM ™ technology departs radically from the conventional technology supporting industrial robots.

Z-KAT's first WAM ™ based product will be an image-guided surgery system called URSA™ (Universal Robotic Surgical Assistant).

The few image guided surgical systems available today use traditional freehand surgical tools without mechanical stabilization. These tools are tracked by an overhead optical system, and the tool's position relative to the desired preoperative plan is displayed on a monitor. Not only is the optical system susceptible to blind spots, but it also requires the surgeon to split visual focus between the patient and a video display - an otherwise unnecessary distraction.

By contrast, Z-KAT's URSA™ product collaborates seamlessly with the surgeon, enabling total focus on the patient. Critical positions are tracked robotically with sub-millimetre precision while providing computer-generated force/torque guidance directly through the surgeon's tool.

Barrett's CEO, William Townsend, observes: "URSA™ collaborates with, rather than replaces, the surgeon. For example, in orthopaedic operations, URSA™ leverages the computation power of modern computer workstations to position a drill sleeve precisely in space. Yet, leveraging years of human experience and subtle intuition, the surgeon retains total control of the drill itself."

According to Z-KAT's CEO, John Kaelblein: "Z-KAT looks at the era of the WAM™ robotic arm in the surgical arena as the most exciting breakthrough since open-heart surgery. The very idea of a surgeon working cooperatively with an intelligent machine will dramatically change the role of the surgical assistant in the operating room. The WAM™ arm will enable the surgeon to pinpoint his surgical approach and hold him steady, so he never loses his trajectory while performing delicate operations."

For further information contact Kellie Browne, Barrett Technology, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

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