WSJ names Vanderbilt engineer’s surgical robot one of six technologies worth watching

A surgical robot with a tiny mechanical wrist developed by team of engineers and doctors at Vanderbilt University’s Medical Engineering and Discovery Laboratory was named in June by the Wall Street Journal as one of six new medical technologies worth watching.

The robot consists of an arm made of tiny concentric tubes that become smaller as they extend out, similar to a radio antenna, with a mechanical wrist at the end. The wrist is less than 1/16th of an inch thick and can bend up to 90 degrees.

Prof. Robert Webster (Michael Todd / Vanderbilt)

The research team is headed by Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Robert Webster and the achievement is described in a paper titled “A wrist for needle-sized surgical robots” presented in May 2015 at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Seattle.

The new device is designed to provide needlescopic tools with a degree of dexterity that they have previously lacked. Not only will this allow surgeon-operators to perform a number of procedures such as precise resections and suturing that haven’t been possible before, but it will also allow the use of needles in places that have been beyond their reach, such as the nose, throat, ears and brain.

Read more and watch a video here: Tiny mechanical wrist gives new dexterity to needlescopic surgery

Click here to see more of Robert Webster’s technologies available for licensing.

Brenda Ellis, (615) 343-6314
Twitter @VUEngineering