More Video Craziness With da Vinci Surgical Robots

From playing “Operation” to besting dancers, there’s apparently nothing da Vinci surgical robots can’t do

2 min read

Ever wondered just how surgeons (and grad students) train on da Vinci surgical robots? Apparently, here’s how it works:

It’s worth mentioning, I think, that had a human not been in the loop here, the robot could almost certainly gotten that wishbone out much, much faster. In fact, I personally challenge robots everywhere to perform the fastest flawless game of Operation ever and post it on YouTube. Aaaaand, GO!

Travis over at Hizook found a couple more da Vinci robot vids, too:

If you’re wondering what the point of these videos are, well, besides being funny, the da Vinci systems (and robotic-assisted surgeries in general) are gaining popularity mostly just because they’re cool. Such surgeries aren’t always better for patients; although the incisions are significantly smaller, robot-assisted surgeries can take up to twice as long as conventional surgeries. There’s also the several thousand dollar premium that patients (or their insurance companies) pay. Still, it’s hard to beat the appeal of being operated on by a robot, apparently:

But now, patient after patient was walking away. They did not want [conventional] surgery. They wanted surgery by a robot, controlled by a physician not necessarily even in the operating room, face buried in a console, working the robot’s arms with remote controls.

“Patients interview you,” said Dr. Cadeddu, a urologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. “They say: ‘Do you use the robot? O.K., well, thank you.’ ” And they leave.

But anyway, the point is that surgical robots are now sexy. They bring in business. And after you’ve just spent a couple million on your brand new surgical robot, more business is definitely what you’re looking for, so putting up YouTube videos showcasing your new medical marvel is definitely a good idea.

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How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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