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The Autonomous Robotic Urethral Catheter - Would You Use It?

Would you use a fully self-guided robotic urethral catheter that installed itself?

I'm sure I've seen this idea somewhere, even though science fiction authors skip over the particulars. See the entry for the still suit from Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert. Also, see the transkin from Parasite Planet (1935) by Stanley Weinbaum, the skin suit from Dinosaur Beach (1971) by Keith Laumer, the diveskin from Starfish (1999) by Peter Watts and skintight from War Dogs (2014), by Greg Bear.

Now, @Gatomon41 retweets this bit of anime:

("It'll snake its way in on its own.
Don't try to take it out, it's dangerous.)

Now, before you start getting all nervous and defensive, the autonomous self-driving urethral catheter does not exist.


It turns out that there actually is a self-driving catheter robot for the heart.

The tip of the catheter contains a haptic vision sensor made of a millimeter-scale camera and LED encased in silicone... “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Pierre DuPont, a bioengineer at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts, who led the new work and has been working in medical robotics for at least a decade. “Just getting the system by itself to operate reliably inside a living being is a high bar. But on top of that we’re going to come up with these algorithms [for it] to drive around in the body by itself...”

(Robot catheter tip)

DuPont initially thought the idea of a self-driving catheter was a bit crazy. But such devices could elevate outcomes for patients by allowing surgeons to focus on more specific aspects of a procedure...

It is touch-sensitive enough to know if it’s in contact with blood, heart tissue or valve. It also knows how hard it’s pressing. The researchers combined this touch sense with imaging from the catheter’s camera to create a device with “touch vision.” Like rats' whiskers and crayfish antennae, the catheter navigated inside the heart by repeatedly making contact with the tissue and following the walls of the heart to its destination.

Sure, the tip is a bit on the large side. But, after the miracles of miniaturization are fully exhausted, I'm sure it will be much smaller and more comfortable. I'm sure.

[Also, it appears that this is the anime adaptation of Knights of Sidonia, from the manga by Tsutomu Nihei.]

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