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By Kathy Mills

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Proof of concept projects have demonstrated the feasibility of remote robotic diagnosis and treatment of patients. The DARPA ‘Trauma Pod’ project discussed below was an attempt to leverage emerging advanced imaging technologies and robotics to enable autonomous casualty scan, diagnosis and intervention, MRMC also has several physiological sensor and image-based robotic casualty assessment and triage research projects underway. However, these capabilities are currently only experimental and are non-ruggedized, teleoperated component capabilities at best.

During initial experimental and clinical trials, common problems and themes arose and generated a common vocabulary of technical terms specific to this burgeoning field. The most important definitions refer to the time delay inherent to telesurgery and include: control latency, visual discrepancy, round trip delay, and the CODEC. Control latency represents the time delay between the remote telesurgeon’s controller manipulation and when the surgical manipulator moves within the patient. Simply it is the flow of information from the surgeon to the patient.

The BEAR robot is extremely strong and agile approximately the size of an adult male. The original prototype was composed of an upper torso with two arm actuators and a lower body built around the Segway RMP base with additional tank tracks on its analogous thighs and calves. It is designed to lift 300–500 lbs (the approximate weight of a fully equipped soldier) and move at $10 miles/h. It utilizes gyroscopic balance that enables it to traverse rough and uneven terrain (Fig. 3). The latest iteration of the BEAR (version 7) has several redesigned components.

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