AI News, A Colonoscopy Robot and Other Weird Biomedical Tech From IEEE's Biggest Robotics Conference

A Colonoscopy Robot and Other Weird Biomedical Tech From IEEE's Biggest Robotics Conference

A host of bizarre biomedical robots turned up at ICRA 2017,IEEE’s flagship robotics conference, whichtook place earlier this month in Singapore.

Then, like an EpiPen on steroids, the soft-bodied bot whips out a needle and jabs that spot inside your stomach in ten fast pumping movements.

Doctors need atool that willreally get in there, and this design will do it.They tested it out on fresh pork fat placed in a plastic human stomach model.

So the group fabricated an insanely flexible model hand, hooked it up with sensors,and, using various finger torture devices, smashed, twisted andbent the fingers in every direction (with thevideo camera rolling).

For each finger, they3D-printed the “bone” with a flexible polyurethane material,routed it with pressure sensor wires, molded a silicone skin around it, and then inserted three layers of pre-stressed spring steel.

The thumb is made similarly, but equipped with amotor.After being smashed with a hammer, the hand can pick up that hammer—or a glass of wineor a pair of scissors—and use it like nothing happened.

It’s meant to serve as an alternative to traditional colonoscopy, an uncomfortable procedure in which a physician snakes a thin, flexiblecolonoscopethrough the large intestine to look for signs of colon cancer and other diseases.A small, controllable robot equipped with a camera and tools to collect tissue samples could do the same job, with less discomfort.

Each body section of the robot contains three shape memory alloy (SMA) springs, which compress andexpand, and are cooled by forced air flow.

Laser-assisted robot arm tries not to be a bull in a china shop It’s a little awkward and slow, but this robot arm will grab and retrieve that hard-to-reach object you need.

When the user aims a laser beam at the object she wants, the robot arm moves to that object, the camera scans it, and the team’s grasp detection algorithm determines how to maneuver itself in order to pick it up.

blind person walks into a crowded room and has a dilemma: He needs to find an empty chair to sit in, but doesn’t want to go aroundboppingankleswith his cane as he tests all the occupied chairs first.

This system allowed the development of many novel techniques, including the first parallax-free X-ray stitching, which was presented at the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention Society conference in 2009 and received the MICCAI Society Young Investigator Award that year.

Later on, this system became one of the first augmented reality solutions to be introduced inside real operating rooms, and was used to improve the outcome for 40 patients undergoing orthopedics and trauma surgical procedures.

In December 2014, a recent prototype version of this system running on a mobile C-arm with 3D reconstruction capability was installed at LCSR, allowing JHU researchers to collaborate with Hopkins surgeons to develop augmented reality solutions for orthopedics and vascular surgery applications.

Tiny robots swim the front crawl through your veins

By Leah Crane It’s no Michael Phelps, but this tiny magnetic robot swims the front crawl at 10 micrometres per second.

As the researchers switch the magnetic field’s direction back and forth, it causes the arms of the nano-swimmer to rotate and propel it forward, just like the arms of a human swimmer doing the front crawl.

For targeted medicine delivery without invasive procedures, these nano-swimmers could be coated with medicine and injected into the bloodstream, where their trajectories could be roughly steered by external magnetic fields.

But, Diller says that for less complicated areas in the human body like the urinary tract or the eyeballs, clinical trials could begin within the next five to 10 years.

Injecting a single swimmer into an eyeball, where it could deliver medication directly to the retina and then be removed, would be much less complicated than letting a swarm of them swim throughout the entire circulatory system.

We don’t know how fast Michael Phelps could swim through blood – thankfully, his recent race against a great white shark didn’t provide a testing ground.

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

Inspired by natural organisms that cover distance by growing – such as vines, fungi and nerve cells – the researchers have made a proof of concept of their soft, growing robot and have run it through some challenging tests.

“Essentially, we’re trying to understand the fundamentals of this new approach to getting mobility or movement out of a mechanism,” explained Allison Okamura, professor of mechanical engineering and senior author of the paper.

“It’s very, very different from the way that animals or people get around the world.” To investigate what their robot can do, the group created prototypes that move through various obstacles, travel toward a designated goal, and grow into a free-standing structure.

It’s a tube of soft material folded inside itself, like an inside-out sock, that grows in one direction when the material at the front of the tube everts, as the tube becomes right-side-out.

“The body can be stuck to the environment or jammed between rocks, but that doesn’t stop the robot because the tip can continue to progress as new material is added to the end.” The group tested the benefits of this method for getting the robot from one place to another in several ways.

It grew through an obstacle course, where it traveled over flypaper, sticky glue and nails and up an ice wall to deliver a sensor, which could potentially sense carbon dioxide produced by trapped survivors.

In other demonstrations, the robot lifted a 100-kilogram crate, grew under a door gap that was 10 percent of its diameter and spiraled on itself to form a free-standing structure that then sent out a radio signal.

“If you can put a robot in these environments and it’s unaffected by the obstacles while it’s moving, you don’t need to worry about it getting damaged or stuck as it explores.” Some iterations of these robots included a control system that differentially inflated the body, which made the robot turn right or left.

Watch Hackers Sabotage an Industrial Robot Arm

But one group of researchers has shown how hackers can perform far more serious physical sabotage: tweaking an industrial robotic arm to cost millions of dollars worth of product defects, and possibly to damage the machinery itself or its human operator.

Privacy conference later this month, they plan to present a case study of attack techniques they developed to subtly sabotage and even fully hijack a 220-pound industrial robotic arm capable of wielding gripping claws, welding tools, or even lasers.

Those security flaws allowed the team to pull off a range of attacks, like changing the roughly $75,000 machine's operating system with a USB drive plugged into the computer's ports, and subtly tampering with its data.

If he and his colleagues were able to find so many basic security flaws in the IRB140, Trend Micro argues that other industrial robots among the 1.3 million the International Federation of Robotics expects to be deployed by 2018 will be vulnerable to similar attacks.

Most seriously, they found that any remote attacker could use the internet-scanning tool Shodan to find exposed, accessible FTP servers connected to the robots, and upload files to them that would be automatically downloaded and run whenever the robot is next rebooted.

An attacker on the same network as the robot could have used a flaw in its HTTP interface to cause it to run unauthorized commands, or broken the weak encryption the robot's controller used to protect its input data, allowing a hacker to subtly alter its parameters.

(They didn't have the budget to test that self-sabotage attack, they admit.) Or more practically, the machine could be subtly hacked to change its manufacturing parameters or simply reduce its precision, altering a product by as a little as a few millimeters.

Maggi points to other scans that reveal tens of thousands of vulnerable industrial network routers he says likely connect to vulnerable machines, offering hackers a foothold to launch an attack.

On that point, Trend Micro's Nunnikhoven says that industrial machines face the same pressure as the rest of the internet of things to enable network and even wireless connections for convenience and efficiency—while exposing machines to attacks that weren't built with internet security in mind.

Brown University

New software developed by Brown University computer scientists enables users to control robots remotely using virtual reality, which helps users to become immersed in a robot’s surroundings despite being miles away physically.

Users can step into the robot’s metal skin and get a first-person view of the environment, or can walk around the robot to survey the scene in the third person — whichever is easier for accomplishing the task at hand.

The data transferred between the robot and the virtual reality unit is compact enough to be sent over the internet with minimal lag, making it possible for users to guide robots from great distances.

“Three examples we were thinking of specifically were in defusing bombs, working inside a damaged nuclear facility or operating the robotic arm on the International Space Station.” Whitney co-led the work with Eric Rosen, an undergraduate student at Brown.

Even highly sophisticated robots are often remotely controlled using some fairly unsophisticated means — often a keyboard or something like a video game controller and a two-dimensional monitor.

A user in Providence, R.I., for example, was able to perform a manipulation task — the stacking of plastic cups one inside the others — using a robot 41 miles away in Cambridge, Mass.

In additional studies, 18 novice users were able to complete the cup-stacking task 66 percent faster in virtual reality compared with a traditional keyboard-and-monitor interface.

“That lets people focus on the problem or task at hand without the increased cognitive load of trying to figure out how to move the robot.” The researchers plan to continue developing the system.

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