WPI Professor to Highlight Surgical Robotics at Robotica 2016

Greg Fischer will be on panel examining advances in the field of patient-treatment robotics systems; event to take place during Bay State Robotics Week
June 06, 2016

Fischer (far left) at Brigham and Women’s

Hospital with the system for MRI-guided

prostate biopsies

A Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) professor will be part of a three-person panel discussing advances in patient-treatment robotics systems at Robotica 2016, a robotics summit that will be held June 6-9 in Devens, Mass.

Gregory Fischer, PhD, professor of mechanical engineering and robotics engineering, will be joined by panelists Tal Wenderow, co-founder and executive vice president of Corindus Vascular Robotics of Waltham, Mass., and Robert Howe, PhD, director of biomedical engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering. The panel, which will take place on June 7, will be moderated by Kirby Vosburgh, PhD, assistant professor of Radiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

The panel will address technology associated with using robots to assist with surgical interventions. A focus of the panel will be how to enable robotic solutions that can be successful in terms of patient outcomes and viable in the healthcare system. Fischer will discuss this in the context of image-guided interventions developed in association with the WPI Automation and Interventional Medicine Laboratory, including MRI-guided thermal ablation of deep brain tumors and targeted biopsy for diagnosis of prostate cancer.

"I am excited to see such a strong presence of healthcare robotics at Robotica this year, with a full day dedicated to surgical, wearable, assistive, and rehabilitative technologies," said Fischer, who is also faculty director of the WPI Healthcare Delivery Institute. "I am looking forward to discussing how we can translate the technology so that it can start making a real impact in patient care."

Hosted by the New England chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the second annual conference features 27 sessions and 90 speakers. According to the conference website, the Robotica 2016 summit “brings together unmanned and robotic systems companies to showcase their capabilities and technologies to a broad audience of end-users and developers.”

Live demonstrations of various airborne, ground, and maritime robotic systems are also scheduled to take place.

Rachel LeBlanc, executive director of WPI's Corporate and Professional Education department, serves on the board of directors for AUVSI's New England chapter. She expects the conference to highlight the latest developments in robotics. 

"Massachusetts is among the most active areas in the country for robotics, so having a forum to learn about the latest innovations is really important," said LeBlanc. "This event continues that momentum."

Keynote speakers include Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI, and Marke "Hoot" Gibson, senior advisor for the unmanned aircraft systems unit of the Federal Aviation Administration. Wynne's presentation is titled "State of the Unmanned Systems Industry and How it is Evolving" while Gibson's is "Flying in the National Airspace System."

Organizations participating in the forum include EMC, iRobot Corp., Harvard Medical School, MIT, and the NASA Langley Research Center. For more information, visit Robotica 2016.

Robotica is a featured event of "Bay State Robotics Week," proclaimed by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to recognize the fact that the robotics industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the commonwealth's economy. The official proclamation notes that Massachusetts universities, including WPI, MIT, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Northeastern University, "…are at the leading edge of the next generation in robotics."

In addition to Robotica, the proclamation highlights two events taking place at WPI this week, the NASA Sample Return Robot Challenge and TouchTomorrow, the free and interactive festival on June 11 celebrating space, science, technology, and robots. "All three events are focused on building the robotics workforce pipeline for the Commonwealth," the proclamation reads.