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Surgeon Makes Tiny Plane with No Robotic Assist

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 21 comments

Who needs a $2 million da Vinci surgical robot to make a paper airplane the size of a penny?

Last week’s VOTW showed Dr. James Porter fashioning a teeny, tiny paper airplane with the help of a da Vinci surgical robot. We were first to admit that though the Da Vinci is an impressive piece of kit and definitely contributed to Dr. Porter’s miniature arts and crafts project, the skill of the surgeon at the helm is of paramount importance when using such a device.

Case-in-point: Our own Alan Dang saw the video and thought, “I can do that with less time, a continuous take and a pair of $1 disposable forceps.”



And he did! Because while Alan has provided us with many wonderful reviews over the years in his role as editor at Tom’s Hardware, by day (and night, and then day again), he’s also an orthopaedic surgeon. Check out his video response below:

Surgeon Folds Tiny Plane with Just Forceps


Of course, we’re not going to stand around and argue that the da Vinci -- a robot that can offer patients less post-operative pain, a shorter hospital stay, less blood loss, faster recovery time and quicker return to normal daily activities -- is useless. Still, the Swedish Medical Center says that the paper airplane construction video demonstrates “how [da Vinci] gives surgeons greater surgical precision and dexterity over existing approaches.”  We’d say that as far as origami is concerned, existing approaches can give the da Vinci a run for its money.

Robot Builds Tiny Aeroplane


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  • 2 Hide
    samanosuke47 , April 5, 2011 4:48 PM
    Professional. All I have to say. lol
  • 0 Hide
    wikid , April 5, 2011 4:55 PM
    let's see if your Alan Dang can do that half way up someone's colon
  • 0 Hide
    kcorp2003 , April 5, 2011 4:59 PM
    Take that robot. nothing beats the sweat of a human work. ( mhm i feel like will smith in irobot)
  • Display all 21 comments.
  • 7 Hide
    cangelini , April 5, 2011 5:01 PM
    wikidlet's see if your Alan Dang can do that half way up someone's colon


    Well, he's an orthopedic surgeon, so there's really no reason for him to be halfway up someone's colon.
  • 7 Hide
    JMcEntegart , April 5, 2011 5:02 PM
    wikidlet's see if your Alan Dang can do that half way up someone's colon


    Volunteering? ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    ProDigit10 , April 5, 2011 5:35 PM
    but it's done with considerable larger amount of shaking!

    It may be just as accurate, but if you're dabbing in someone's guts, with a laser, and shake as much as he did, you're going to cause some considerable damage inside!
  • 1 Hide
    ljport78 , April 5, 2011 5:50 PM
    wikidlet's see if your Alan Dang can do that half way up someone's colon

    I know. Technically my grungy digits can make a plane smaller than both of them in half the time. However, I don't think anyone would appreciate both my arms shoved half way up their rear.
  • 1 Hide
    Marco925 , April 5, 2011 5:54 PM
    To QUOTE a youtube user on the robot video.

    Quote:
    Yea but...can it play Crysis 2?
    lucabertone80 5 hours ago
  • 0 Hide
    fayzaan , April 5, 2011 5:59 PM
    I want mah monies back!
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , April 5, 2011 6:25 PM
    What is this, a plane for ants?
  • 1 Hide
    ecrenshaw , April 5, 2011 6:39 PM
    The robot's actions are a bit smoother though. They probably have a Kalman filter or something to slow down the human's shaky-ness. I'm not criticizing Dr. Dang because it is very impressive indeed. But the robot's actions are just a bit more...what's the word...smoother and calm.
  • 0 Hide
    Assmar , April 5, 2011 6:44 PM
    Yeah, but I believe the purpose of the vid with the robot is to illustrate how delicate surgeries could be performed from hundreds if not thousands of miles away, wasn't it? Maybe I should have turned the sound on during the video.
  • 1 Hide
    husker , April 5, 2011 6:59 PM
    I take umbrage to the description of the da Vinci as a "robot". By that definition, any tool in skilled hands is a robot. Is my car a robot? It translates my hand and foot movements (through the use of complicated mechanics, electronics, and computer control) into a specialized movement that on my own I couldn't perform, especially with other passengers aboard.
  • 6 Hide
    AlanDang , April 5, 2011 7:04 PM
    @wikid: Obviously, the surgical robot has a role in real-life. The point of the video isn't to say that robots are useless. They're great tools. But robot is just another tool for surgeons to use. It's not the robot that makes folding small paper airplanes possible, it's Dr. Porter's skill. When someone watches the original video, I don't want them to think "that's an impressive piece of hardware." I want them to think "that's an impressive demo of Dr. Porter's skill with a surgical robot."

    @Prodigit10: We don't use those disposable $0.50 forceps when we do real microsurgery. :)  Surgical grade (not eBay-grade) microinstruments can run you $500. That makes a big difference in terms of being able to hold the tissue better. It's actually possible (routine) to repair small nerves with suture that's 0.02mm in diameter using manual instruments and the assistance of 2.5x or 3.5x magnification loupes!

    The shaking actually reveals an important nuance/secret of surgical technique. When I'm above the piece of paper, you can see that the forceps are very shaky. But as I grab the paper and fold it, suddenly it looks more stable. That's because I'm concentrating a lot more at that point. The same thing is true in real surgery. When you're far away from a nerve, you're pretty shaky but as you get closer, the shakiness stops as you concentrate. Surgery is basically a long series of sequential steps, each step lasting only a few seconds a most, but requiring exceptional precision for that moment in time.

    It's the same thing with military/Olympic sharpshooters. They may move and shake a lot initially, but in the moment right before they pull the trigger, suddenly their tremor stops. There was a show on Discovery Channel which demonstrated this phenomenon with a laser sight.
  • 1 Hide
    lucuis , April 6, 2011 12:25 AM
    That's pretty cool, but i made a paper crane(sp) smaller then those with just my fingers. Mind you it took my the better part of an hr :) 
  • 0 Hide
    memadmax , April 6, 2011 5:41 AM
    I built a paper plane using the Force.
    Beat THAT, robot.....
  • 0 Hide
    theyohan , April 6, 2011 7:51 AM
    Throwaway1396What is this, a plane for ants?

    Lovin the Zoolander quote
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , April 6, 2011 9:05 AM
    cangeliniWell, he's an orthopedic surgeon, so there's really no reason for him to be halfway up someone's colon.


    there was also no reason for him to do this in the first place. what i would like to see him do is do this inside someones sinus cavity, that way when they sneese, the paper airplane will launch out.
    ProDigit10but it's done with considerable larger amount of shaking!It may be just as accurate, but if you're dabbing in someone's guts, with a laser, and shake as much as he did, you're going to cause some considerable damage inside!


    this kind of thing with the tweezers is more for stitching people up than cutting them open.

    ecrenshawThe robot's actions are a bit smoother though. They probably have a Kalman filter or something to slow down the human's shaky-ness. I'm not criticizing Dr. Dang because it is very impressive indeed. But the robot's actions are just a bit more...what's the word...smoother and calm.


    well here, the way the robot works is by taking the actions that a human would normal do, and scaling it down considerably. depending on the scale he may have to move his arm 20 inches to move the robots 2 inches. all the shakiness is still there, but its just scaled down so much that it may as well not exist.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , April 6, 2011 11:46 AM
    cool
  • 0 Hide
    JamesAllen , April 6, 2011 4:42 PM
    But how much more confident would you be with a surgeon using a 2-million dollar machine compared to the guy that pulls out the disposable tweezers?
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