The robot doctors are coming!
Robot surgery research is definitely taking off - for example, surgeons can do keyhole surgery on patients even if they're in a different country. Now new technology is improving compatibility between robot systems, allowing doctors to use the internet to operate surgical robots all over the world.
Scientists have developed a new piece of software called the "Interoperable Telesurgical Protocol", which is designed to standardise the way that robotic surgeons are operated over the internet. To test it out, nine research teams from around the world used it to operate a robot surgeon. The scientists were in different locations in the US, Europe and Asia.
Over 24 hours, each group connected over the Internet and controlled robots at different locations, testing how different robot and controller designs can be operated through one system. This is very important, because it means that researchers who may use slightly different robots and systems can all work together.
The researchers hope that future developments in robot surgery will use the new protocol, to enhance compatibility with researchers around the world. Unfortunately, it's not much help if the internet goes down...