Sethu Vijayakumar on how robots could tackle healthcare challenges and save lives

[2021]In an article written for The Scotsman Professor of Robotics Sethu Vijayakumar discusses how the latest advances in robotics have the potential to solve some of the greatest challenges in healthcare today.

Photo of Sethu Vijayakumar stood next to a humanoid robot.
Sethu Vijayakumar with NASA's Valkyrie humanoid robot

A shift towards personalisation to make medicine and treatment more effective has opened the door for robotics to play an increasingly significant role in the healthcare sphere.

By exploring current treatments for cancers and lung diseases, the latter particularly pertinent due to Covid-19, Sethu shows the unique advantages that come with using robots to develop healthcare solutions. Radiotherapy can become more targeted through the use of robot arms that navigate narrow, complicated spaces with ease, while the repetitive cycle of sensing, monitoring and delivery of drugs to treat lung diseases could be protected from human error by automated, autonomous navigation systems.

Robotics could hold the key to solving some of the biggest and most intriguing healthcare challenges of our generation, with the potential to provide simple solutions to complex problems.

Sethu's article is the first instalment in a series written by Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the product of a partnership between the Society and The Scotsman newspaper. The collaboration aims to highlight the human and social impact of scientific research, offering thought-provoking scientific commentary from experts in their field.

As a mathematician and roboticist, I have been lucky enough to work on many complex projects like developing algorithms for a Nasa humanoid robot to balance, navigate and manipulate objects autonomously, in preparation for deployment on Mars.

However, I am fascinated with the question of how the latest advances in my field can help tackle some of the biggest and most intriguing healthcare challenges of our generation.

Sethu Vijayakumar
Professor of Robotics, University of Edinburgh

Sethu is Professor of Robotics here at the School of Informatics, Centre Director of the Edinburgh Centre of Robotics He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Programme Director for Artificial Intelligence at the Alan Turing Institute. His research interest spans a broad interdisciplinary curriculum involving basic research in the fields of robotics, statistical machine learning, motor control, planning and optimization in autonomous systems and computational neuroscience. One of his latest projects (2016) involves a collaboration with NASA Johnson Space Centre on the Valkyrie humanoid robot (pictured) being prepared for unmanned robotic pre-deployment missions to Mars.

Related Links

Read Sethu's full article on The Scotsman website

Sethu Vijayakumar's personal page