The U.S. military has perhaps the most advanced technology in the world, not to mention an extensive communications network, so it only makes sense that some of that know-how and bandwidth would help to extend medical services to far-flung locales. Indeed, robots have assisted Army physicians in at least 200 remote medical interventions over the past three years, CNN reports.
The three-wheeled robots with built-in videoconferencing capability, have come in handy particularly for Dr. Kevin Chung, director of the Burn Intensive Care Unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. While deployed to Iraq, Chung often turned to the robots to help him follow up with hospitalized soldiers who had been sent back to America. Not only did the robots extend the reach of specialists, they also boosted morale of medical personnel in combat zones. "To visually see that patient in a bed, with stable vital signs, halfway around the world--that did wonders just to be able to see that for all the staff," Chang says.
Though the wireless signal that controls the robots sometimes cuts out, Chang is optimistic about the potential of these robo-soldiers. They could, for example, help specialists walk field surgeons through unfamiliar procedures in an emergency.
For more information on the Army's medical robots:
- have a look at this CNN report