Robotics experts in the UC Santa Cruz Bionics Lab have collaborated with the University of Washington to develop an “open source” surgical robot capable of performing advanced procedures. The surgical robot “Raven II” has been duplicated seven times, five products of which will soon be sent to major robotics research institutions around the country. These include Harvard University, John Hopkins University, University of Nebraska, UC Berkeley and UCLA.

Jacob Rosen, UCSC computer engineering professor and chief investigator of the project, said the Raven II will follow an “open source” model, which enables the sharing of robotic software among the various robotics research institutions and will result in higher frequencies of communication during experiments.

“We are collaborating with our peers to create a common platform,” Rosen said.

Ji Ma, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSC who assisted Rosen on the project, also acknowledged the significance of using an “open source” model.

“When all these leading labs have a common research platform for doing robotic surgery, the whole field will be able to advance more quickly,” Ma said in an email.

Robotic surgery is a commonly utilized tool in procedures such as prostate surgery.

Rosen, who has directed the bionics lab at UCSC since 2008, was assisted by Blake Hannaford of the University of Washington bio-robotics department in creating the Raven II, which was funded with a grant from the National Science Fund.

Raven II is equipped with two robotic arms and a camera for viewing the operational field. This also allows for the possibility of online telesurgery, an advanced process which enables doctors to conduct surgical procedures utilizing robotic technology while in remote locations.

Rosen thinks collaboration among research institutions is integral to the development of advanced research mechanisms like Raven II.

“Sometimes we need to collaborate in order to survive — even though this isn’t a matter of survival, we can still progress science.” Rosen said. “This [collaboration] is not just with the University of Washington, but all in our field. We are creating new knowledge that will allow us to move forward.”