A needle-sized bendable wrist with gripper
For the last six years, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Robert Webster and his colleagues have been developing a surgical robot that uses “steerable needles.” This is a system of telescoping tubes that are made out of nitinol, a “memory metal” that retains it shape. Each tube has a different intrinsic curvature. By precisely rotating, extending and retracting the tubes, an operator can steer the tip in different directions, allowing it to follow a curving path through the body.
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