NIH funds robots for the vision impaired, stroke patients, doctors performing catheter ablation

Three projects have been awarded funding by the National Institutes of Health.  All involve robots that cooperate with people and adapt to changing environments to improve human capabilities and enhance medical procedures.

  • A co-robotic navigation device for the blind: Cang Ye at University of Arkansas is incorporating 3D imaging sensor technology into the white cane. This enables it to detect and relay to the user critical information about the environment, like when there’s a potential obstacle in the way.  In related research, Professor Amnon Shashua at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, through his company OrCam, uses Artificial Vision to compensate for lost visual abilities, and Professor Amir Amedi at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is also developing cutting edge technology to help the vision impaired. His projects include reading in the blind, sensory substitution devices, multisensory perception, topographic brain, and seeing with music and sound.
  • MRI-guided co-robotic catheter: During traditional catheter ablation for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, one of the most common arrhythmias, a catheter with an electrode on its tip is threaded through a vein in a patient’s groin up to the heart. Doctors destroy tissue at certain points on the heart in order to prevent the occurrence of irregular heart activity. The constant movement of the heart and blood can make that process difficult. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are developing a catheter that uses robotic planning strategies to compensate for those movements to increase accuracy of procedures in conjunction with MRI.
  • Platform for exploration of robotic ankle exoskeleton control: Researchers at North Carolina State and Carnegie Mellon are developing a method to compare different wearable devices to assist people recovering from stroke.


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