CSTAR and MD Robotics partner to re-apply space robot technology for surgical robots

London 19 September 2002The Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics (CSTAR) organisation and MD Robotics, maker of the world-renowned Canadarm, are collaborating to develop the next generation of surgical robots. MD Robotics is a subsidiary of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. CSTAR is a collaborative effort of London Health Sciences Centre and Lawson Health Research Institute. The announcement was made at University Campus, London Health Sciences Centre.


The collaboration brings together MD Robotics' expertise in space robotics with CSTAR's proven ability in surgical robotics and in pioneering new technologies and techniques. CSTAR's revolutionary new facility, to be completed Spring 2003, will be the first interdisciplinary research and training facility in the world to bring together practitioners, students, and researchers in surgery, engineering, imaging, robotics, information technology and business.

"We are collaborating closely with London Health Sciences Centre and their partners to re-apply the robotic technology developed for space for medical robotic systems", stated Mike Parfitt, Director of MD Robotics. "We have established a business unit called MD Systems which is dedicated to further development of medical robotic technology and applications."

CSTAR is Canada's national centre for developing and testing the next generation of minimally invasive surgical technologies and techniques, including robotics. Interdisciplinary teams of surgeons, scientists, engineers, information technologists, and business advisors have attracted $17,2 million in project funding.

"This partnership strengthens our capacity for great achievements in medical robotics", stated Dr. Reiza Rayman, Director of Research and Business Operations at CSTAR. "Together, we will push the frontiers of medicine far faster than working alone, with considerable benefit to patients."

Dr. Dave Williams, Canadian Space Agency Astronaut and former Director of NASA/Johnson Space Center's Directorate of Space and Life Sciences was on hand for the announcement. In the morning, he viewed robotic surgery and participated in a brainstorming session with a select group of Canada's top scientists to develop Canada's capabilities for robotic medicine. Dr. Williams spoke at the afternoon announcement about new developments in medical robotics, and their possible application for both Earth and space.

"What's next is to take the robotic technology of Canadarm2, developed by MD Robotics for the Canadian Space Agency, and bring it back to Earth", stated Dr. Williams.

CSTAR pioneered the world's first robotic, closed-chest, totally endoscopic, single coronary artery bypass on a beating heart in September 1999. A world leader in medical robotics, CSTAR is a collaborative effort of London Health Sciences Centre and Lawson Health Research Institute. Additional support is provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Innovation Trust, and the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund.

MD Systems Limited, a newly formed subsidiary of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, is dedicated to the development and commercialisation of medical robotic systems and devices.

Leslie Versweyveld

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