“Robotics Olympics” in Florida: Mr Google BUYS the Competition
by John Bennett MD
December 22, 2013
We took the Proofreaders away from their computers yesterday, and took them on a well-deserved road trip, down from our corporate offices on Brickell Ave. in Miami. Since the proofreaders are working through Christmas, we thought it was the least we could do.
We headed down to the Homestead Speedway, to the Robotics Olympics, The Darpa Robotics Challenge, a Pentagon-funded event, done for disaster-response reasons; they want to stimulate research in the field of robotics, so that robots can be first responders in disaster situations, where it is dangerous for humans, i.e., shutting off valves, removing equipment, etc. Just as n the Tricorder Competition, they are offering a cash prize of 2 million dollars.
The field of participants were impressive: Lockheed Martin, NASA, Carnegie Mellon, et al.; and as far as private companies at the convention, that normally display their products for industry leaders to peruse, there was only one: you guessed it, Google.
Displaying their driver-less car, but more likely establishing their physical presence in the field of Robotics, that symbolically shows, that: hey, if you do something good, we will buy you, for good money, and for a bonus, maybe we will extend your life a few decades with another company we are developing (Calico). To date, Google has bought 7 robotics companies, but their toothy rep told me, they had just bought 2 more in the past couple of days, including a biggie, Boston Scientific, one of the stars of the show.
“This is huge for robotics,” said Joe Bondaryk, head of Boston Scientific, one of the bought companies.
“Before this there really wasn’t any organized push in humanoid robotics.”
Through LinkedIn networking with Fran Rabuck, a Technology/Strategy Research Analyst from Philly, we were able to meet a few members of the Drexel University Team, who presented their robotics work, in the competition of performing tasks such as climbing ladders, turning off valves, punching holes in walls, etc.
The members of the Drexel team were young, enthusiastic, qualified PhD’s, who seemed excited about their work. And I met Karthikeyan Yuvraj, a Phd, who is just starting work at the National Childrens Medical Center, in Washington DC. Apparently, he has done work with using Google Glass with the Robot. He now will be working on a KUKA robotic arm to perform anastomosis surgery. Like most PhD’s getting their first job, he seemed psyched. AND computer smart.
The Kuka Robotic Arm
Now, let me get to the impressions part of this article, and what I feel about a science called ‘Robotics” that is, and will increasingly impact Healthcare.
1) Besides Dr. Topols’ factors of convergence that he writes about his ground-breaking work, The Creative Destruction of Medicine, we might add another a variation of his factors; the integration of computer-smart researchers into the medical research workforce.
We have seen the impact of the internet on Medicine in many areas; but now, with this injection of computer-smart researchers, who ARRIVE at work, being computer-smart will definitely spur quicker discoveries, in whatever medical research they do. Just as integration of computer-smart doctors into the work force will spur application and leverage of computer talents into the medical clinical field.
2) Digitalization of Healthcare has the Big Boys behind medical research. Of course, governments have always been behind medical research, but Mr Google is saying, hey, Google Glass move over, your Robotics brother needs room, and that we are deadly serious about making developments in Medical Robotics, as they are in Google Glass.
3) Digitalization is creating new fields of sciences. A few years back, there was no such thing as “Medical Robotics”. Digitalization has created it. Not to mention other sciences that were not created, but put into increasing prominence and development, such as: immunoengineering, optogenetics, microfluidics, nanomedicine, and others.
So, before leaving, I made sure to keep a close eye on the Proofreaders, who tend to smooze with the prettiest Robotics reps, and say they are “networking”. And I cut short their conversation with the toothy Google rep, before that conversation turned to acquisitions, because, even though these proofreaders are knuckleheads around the office, they are, after all, tops in their field. And, come to think of it, I may give them Christmass off.
Your comments are welcome!