Robots May Soon Perform Battlefield Surgery
The Army Times reports that robots may be performing battlefield surgery on wounded soldiers within a decade.
Robots may someday perform battlefield surgery (Army Times – AP)
The Pentagon is awarding $12 million in grants on Monday to develop an unmanned Ã¢€œtrauma podÃ¢€ designed to use robots to perform full scalpel-and-stitch surgeries on wounded soldiers in battlefield conditions.
The researchers who pitched the Defense Department on the idea have prepared a futuristic Ã¢€œconcept videoÃ¢€ that seems straight out of a teen fantasy game, showing with full color and sound effects the notion that robots in unmanned vehicles can operate on soldiers under enemy fire and then evacuate them. Ã¢€œThe main challenge is how can we get high-quality medical care onto the battlefield as close to the action and as close to the soldiers as possible,Ã¢€ said John Bashkin, head of business development at SRI International, a nonprofit laboratory that often handles Defense Department research. Ã¢€œRight now, the resources are pretty limited to what a medic can carry with him.Ã¢€
SRI researchers caution that the project remains at least a decade away from appearing on any battlefields. Surgeons will need to manipulate the robot in real time, using technology that prevents any delays between their commands and the robotÃ¢€™s actions. The Ã¢€œtrauma podÃ¢€ has to keep connected wirelessly without giving away its position to the enemy, and it has to be nimble and hardy enough to perform under fire.
This would be a huge leap, indeed. We already have variants of this, as anyone who has had laser eye surgery knows. Not only could a trauma pod carry more supplies, but treatment of soldiers wounded on the battlefield could begin without risking getting a medic killed in the process.