Korean researchers have developed the nation's first surgical robot that can be remotely controlled over the Internet. The researchers on Tuesday unveiled the robot system called Kyung Hee SR1. The team was led by Prof. Kim Yoon-hyuk from Kyung Hee University's College of Advanced Technology and Prof. Rha Koon-ho and Prof. Hyung Woo-jin from Yonsei University College of Medicine's Robot Surgery Center.
Kyung Hee SR1 was built with W150 million (US$1=W916) from the Korea Food & Drug Administration. The 70 kg system has two robotic arms that measure 90 centimeters across. With the machine connected to the Internet, it's possible for a doctor to operate on a patient from anywhere in the world.
In a demonstration on Wednesday, Prof. Rah operated a remote controller and watched on a screen as the robot precisely followed his moves, picking up and cutting pig intestines in a mannequin. "Currently a U.S.-made robotic surgical system called da Vinci is dominating the Korean market and the global market. But Kyung Hee SR1 is on par with da Vinci in terms of precision movement," said Prof. Rah.
With the da Vinci system the operating doctor cannot feel the power that the system is applying, but Kyung Hee SR1 provides touch feedback so the operator can feel the force of the robot's grip. "The Korean robotic surgical system can be commercialized within three years when devices attached to it to help the surgery, such as the endoscope, are developed and clinically tested," Prof. Kim said. "The home-grown system costs from one fifth to one third the price of da Vinci, which amounts to about W2.5 billion. Hopefully the domestic system will relieve the cost burden from patients."