Medical Systems Division

Medical Systems Center

Autonomous systems in medical applications are making fundamental changes in health care, and the Technion is the key contributor in this progress. For example, new technologies have enabled the development of tiny instruments which can be inserted into the body and either be guided by physicians or move on their own. Some of these instruments are able to reach areas in the body that were previously inaccessible by traditional endoscopes. The development of even smaller medical robots means that diagnoses and treatments could be made and applied using far smaller incisions and thus, recovery will be easier and quicker.
More and more applications are being developed to guide doctors’ hands and make surgeries and other treatments safer and more effective. Tele-surgery is already being performed with the help of monitors and equipment which can interact in real time. For example, over 60% of urological and gynecological operations are done by remote-mode-operated robots. Integrating a wide array of technologies and implementing them safely depends on researchers with extensive medical knowledge, in addition to researchers with first-rate computer and biomedical engineering skills. The Technion is uniquely capable to face this challenge due to the close ties between its Medical school, the Department of Biomedical Engineering and other researchers in science and engineering departments.
Quick and accurate diagnoses can make the difference between life and death, and improvements in medical imaging translate directly into lives saved and suffering eased. The more clearly physicians could see inside the body, the more accurate their diagnoses would be and the more effective their treatments. Medical imaging is improving rapidly, and new techniques and tools are being integrated with these images, so as to enable physicians to see and operate both on a micro level and from a distance. This requires overcoming interferences between medical instruments and imaging systems and integrating the many partial, and often distorted, images into a coherent picture. It is a significant data processing challenge which must be met, in order to create the next generation of medical robots.
Technion researchers are developing medical robots that can move independently within the patient’s body for diagnostic and treatment purposes. Tiny medical robots which move within the body must recognize and identify healthy or abnormal structures and decide on the relevant procedure, perhaps coordinating actions with each other. The challenges involved in designing and developing the cameras and other sensors for these instruments are monumental. Not only must the sensors be extremely small, they must be very accurate, able to withstand the particular conditions of their environment (the human body), to communicate with other instruments and with physicians and, sometimes, to make independent decisions on how to proceed. If multiple robots are used, they will need to have the ability to communicate with one another. The Technion's Autonomous System Program will put the necessary tools in the hands of those best suitable to advance this vital project, which will improve health care world-wide.
To address the challenges in medicine in the 21st century, we have defined three main research areas:

  • Autonomous Surgical Intervention – to improve safety and enhance standard-of-care.
  • Enhanced Autonomous Organs – to restore organs to full function
  • Autonomous Health- Awareness Environments – to conceive, plan, design and test living environments which foster a healthier life style.

The Autonomous Medical Systems Division has the unique advantage of cooperating with a new effort by the Rambam Health Care Campus, the largest and most advanced hospital complex in northern Israel, which is promoting a future Robotics Operating Theater. The Autonomous Medical System Division will be cooperating with the Future Robotics Operating Theater (FROT).