AeroVironment UAV enables first high-altitude platforms for mobile robotic telesurgery test

MONROVIA, Calif., 3 Aug. 2006. AeroVironment Inc. and a team of military and surgical experts finished the first High Altitude Platforms for Mobile Robotic Telesurgery (HAPsMRT) test in July.

Aug 3rd, 2006

MONROVIA, Calif., 3 Aug. 2006. AeroVironment Inc. and a team of military and surgical experts finished the first High Altitude Platforms for Mobile Robotic Telesurgery (HAPsMRT) test in July.

Telesurgery is a new medical procedure in which a surgeon performs operations on patients hundreds of miles away using a surgical robot, computers, and wideband telecommunications.

The HAPsMRT model -- developed by the U.S. Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, University of Cincinnati, and University of Washington -- uses an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), such as AeroVironment's Puma, which in this test was the communications link connecting the surgeon to the robot.

Timothy Broderick, M.D., associate professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the University of Cincinnati and director of the Advanced Center for Telemedicine and Surgical Innovation, led the two-day test which took place in part at AeroVironment's UAV flight testing location, an undeveloped area in Southern California surrounded by hills and plains that simulates a battlefield or remote environment.

During the first day of the test, a simulated patient and the robot were situated at AeroVironment's flight test location. Broderick manned the surgical robot control console and operated on the simulated patient using real-time streaming video fed into the console via AeroVironment's Puma UAV, which was flying above the area. The data traveled a total round trip distance of nearly three miles.

For the second part of the test, Broderick traveled to the University of Washington to operate the surgical robot at AeroVironment's flight test location from behind a surgical robot control console in Seattle, approximately 1,100 miles away, again using AeroVironment's Puma to provide the last tactical mile communications link.

The surgical robot was stationed at AeroVironment's remote flight test location 1.2 miles from AeroVironment's UAV facility. Surgery video was successfully streamed over the World Wide Web using a 5-megabit access point carried aloft by Puma, which acted as the communication bridge.

"Our real-time, high-speed communications unmanned aircraft systems eliminate relay lag, saving crucial time for remote surgeons who will someday perform life-saving procedures in the middle of a battlefield," says John Grabowsky, vice president and general manager of AeroVironment's unmanned aircraft systems group. "Mobile Robotic Surgery also could have applications in non-battlefield environments such as remote towns where major surgical centers are located at great distances or where a hospital has been incapacitated due to storms or other causes."

For more information contact AeroVironment online at www.avinc.com.

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