Surgical interventions are, on many occasions, far more invasive than we would expect. Surgeons have to cut tissue in a number of places to get easier access to the actual organ or tissue they need to operate on.

Designers from the Italian High school for advanced design Santa Anna, are developing a less invasive, robotic alternative. They are working on a robotic arm, similar to an octopussy leg, which can squeeze in between the organs, keep them apart and, in the meantime, can also operate.

This device has two connected modules, each one of them consisting of three circular air chambers. Selective inflation of each chamber in a vast number of permutations of pressure and size, allows the robotic arm to flex at different angles and in different directions throughout its length. To make sure the arm never goes too soft, granules of coffee have been stored inside. When in vacuum (no air), granules compress and harden. Tests brought excellent results so far as the arm managed a 255deg bending angle , while extending up to 62% in flexible state. Water balloons, which were used to act as organs remained unharmed. This could be a big step towards a tool as a solution for significantly easier surgical interventions.

May 18, 2015 Living photo: Tommaso Ranzani

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