A robot that performs surgery is a serious thing. One bug in the control system could end with disaster. Unless of course, you’re [Michael Reeves], in which case disaster is all part of the fun. (Video, embedded below.)
Taking inspiration from The da Vinci Surgical System, [Michael] set out to build a system that was faster, while still maintaining precision. He created a belt drive gantry system, not unlike many 3D printers, laser cutters, or woodworking CNC machines. Machines like this often use stepper motors. [Michael] decided to go with [Oskar Weigl’s] ODrive and brushless motors instead. The ODrive is on open source controller which turns off the shelf brushless motors — such as those found in R/C planes or hoverboards, into precision industrial servos. Sound familiar? ODrive was an entrant in the 2016 Hackaday Prize. [Michael] was even able to do away the ubiquitous limit switch by monitoring current draw with the ODrive.
It all adds up to a serious build. But this is [Michael “laser eye” Reeves] after all. The video is meant to be entertaining, with a hidden payload of education and inspiration. The fun starts when he arms the robot with a giant kitchen knife and performs “surgery” on a pineapple. If you want to know what happens when mannequins and fake blood enter the picture, then watch the video after the break.
Some of our readers might be put off by the presentation. But amidst all the jump cuts, [Michael] is throwing in a ton of useful information. An example would be the way he showed how his aluminum extrusion gantry crossbeam sagged and wobbled like a wet noodle once he loaded it with 10 lbs of hardware for the knife drive. Things would have much stiffer if he had designed the moving crossbeam on the shorter side of the gantry frame.
The final robot won’t be performing surgery on us any time soon, but it sure makes for a fun video. I’ve already shown this to a couple of medical professionals, and it gave them a much needed laugh after a rough day.
Thanks to [Matt] for the tip!