DARPA selects SRI International to lead Trauma Pod Battlefield Medical Treatment System Development Programme

Menlo Park 28 March 2005Imagine an automated medical treatment system that does not require on-site medical personnel on the front lines of battle, and is ready to receive, assess, and stabilize wounded soldiers during the critical hours following injury. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences Office (DSO) has taken a significant step toward that goal by awarding an SRI International-led multi-organisation team a $12 million, two-year contract to develop such a revolutionary system. The groundbreaking programme is an important step toward ensuring a future generation of battlefield-based unmanned medical treatment systems, or "trauma pods", to stabilize injured soldiers within minutes after a battlefield trauma and administer life-saving medical and surgical care prior to evacuation and during transport.


The first phase of the programme is an effort to develop robotic technology to perform a totally unmanned surgical procedure within a fixed facility. When fully developed, the Trauma Pod will not require human medical personnel on-site to conduct the surgery, and will be small enough to be carried by a medical ground or air vehicle. A human surgeon will conduct all the required surgical procedures from a remote location using a system of surgical manipulators. The system's actions are then communicated wirelessly to the surgery site. Automated robotic systems will provide necessary support to the surgeon to conduct all phases of the operation.

The programme will leverage substantial technology and expertise from a team of leading companies. SRI, an independent research and development organisation, will serve as lead systems integrator on the collaborative project.

The team includes:

  • SRI International, developer of pioneering telesurgery systems
  • General Dynamics Robotic Systems, an expert in unmanned ground vehicle systems and developer of the automated pharmacy system
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory, specialized in weapons and material handling robotics
  • University of Texas, a research expert in software control systems for material disposal and space manipulators
  • University of Washington, a research leader in surgical robotics
  • University of Maryland, a research expert in Operating Room of the Future
  • Robotic Surgical Tech Inc., developers of the first robotic nurse systems for the operating room

The team held a kick-off meeting at the "Medicine Meets Virtual Reality" conference in Long Beach, California on January 26-29, 2005.

"SRI is excited about working with the team to innovate and apply its interdisciplinary technical skills, rigorous approach to system integration, and comprehensive testing and demonstration abilities to tackle the challenge of developing a functional system", stated Scott Seaton, executive director of SRI's Engineering and Systems Division. "The result will be a major step forward in saving lives on the battlefield. SRI has a long history of meeting our nation's defense needs, and this programme continues in that tradition."

The Trauma Pod programme is funded by DARPA through the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), a subordinate element of the United States Army Research and Materiel Command.

Silicon Valley-based SRI International is an independent research and technology development organisation. Founded as Stanford Research Institute in 1946, SRI has been meeting the strategic needs of clients for almost 60 years. The non-profit research institute performs contract research and development for government agencies, commercial businesses and non-profit foundations. In addition to conducting contract R&D, SRI licenses its technologies, forms strategic partnerships and creates spin-off companies.

Leslie Versweyveld

[Medical IT News][Calendar][Virtual Medical Worlds Community][News on Advanced IT]