Watch a surgical robot sew up a grape


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I hate seeing something like this called a robot. The Da Vinci system is what old pulp sci-fi called Waldos after a Heinlein short story. There’s no automation and no smarts. A surgeon making every motion using remote manipulators. A robot may have a programmer, but it is executing a program, which as far as I know isn’t something that anyone is doing in medical procedures.


That is just a remote control. From the site:

"Although it is often called a “robot”, the da Vinci System cannot move or operate on its own; your surgeon is 100% in control. "


I was all like “hooray! I can never tie those stupid knots!” (the sewing part is pretty easy, really) and then I found out these are waldoes, not a robot. DAMMIT INTERNETS!


What do they do about tactile feedback? Without that, we’re all as clumsy as… um… clumsy people.


We got a Da Vinci system in the hospital where I interned. Immediately encountered a spike in the number of nicked bladders by some of the urologists. Not blaming the machine, just pointing out that in the hands of some surgeons, it may carry increased risks.


It’s a little similar to getting an “RC car” and finding out after opening the package that it’s “remote control” rather than “radio control” and is connected by a dinky little 3-foot cord.

Or how almost any remotely-controlled flying thing gets called a “drone” these days…


That grape is making me queasy…


Well, seedless grapes just got a lot more common!


I got to play with one briefly (hospital gave staff an opportunity to see what all the hype was about) but nothing delicate like sewing a grape; we opened up packs and tied knots. There was some “weight” to the controls (presumably adjustable) but otherwise all video game style hand-eye coordination. The nice thing was you could take your hands off and everything stays put. Not an option with hand-held instruments.
Anyway, definitely a learning curve to the beastie, but a skilled surgeon would probably pick it up fast. Which leads me to believe that overconfidence poses a big risk factor.


No wonder. I was expecting it to be a lot faster.


Such robots could be fun to play with, in e.g. a lab.
Matter of time until they are routinely made from 3d-printed parts and model servos. (And the controllers made from 3d-printed parts and potentiometers for position sensing. Gods, I need that 3d printer!)


“As the son of a surgeon, I’m impressed.”

As a person with testicles, this video makes me…uneasy


A veterinary surgeon operates on animals. What is a surgeon who operates on fruit called?


A karpoplastologist!

There wasn’t any extant word, so I used the time-honored tradition of mashing some greek and dog-latin together.


How ridiculous! Why are we operating on grapes at all? Everyone knows it’s bananas that are truly in need of surgery.


Just look at it!



Down with banana plastic surgery! The Euro “straight banana” beauty standards are oppressive and unnatural.


Do you know(this is an honest question, not a rhetorical question) how much, if any, fancy-algorithmic-feedback-black-magic is going on the make the ‘just a waldo’ stuff actually faithfully execute the operator’s commands?

It is definitely true that the system does not, yet at least, have a machine-vision assisted SutureAI™ or ‘just click on the vein you’d like hemostasisized!’ assistive features; but it may well have a lot more fancy feedback going on than, say, a classic RC aircraft, where your manipulation of the stick has a simple, linear, relationship with the movement of a servo attached to a control surface, and absolutely no compute-fu(barring the possible use of error correction in a digital radio link, rather than a full analog one) is involved in any way.


What is this? I can’t even.