Automated Endoscopic System for Optimal Positioning

Designed by Computer Motion, Inc., AESOP is one of the simplest types of surgeon-driven systems. Its sole function is to hold and orient a laparoscopic camera under hand, foot, or voice control. The AESOP has six degrees of freedom, two of which are passive (positioned by hand and do not have motors actuating them). The robot has been used at several institutions and in many clinical areas, including urologic laparoscopy (21). Kavoussi et al. found that the camera was significantly steadier under robot versus direct human control, and neither operative setup nor breakdown time was increased with the use of the robotic assistant (22). The AESOP arm uses voice recognition software, which is prerecorded onto a voice card and inserted into the controller.

Computer Motion's National Aeronautics and Space Administration-funded research demonstrated that voice-controlled commands are preferable to alternatives such as eye tracking and head tracking, which control motion in response to movements of the surgeon's head.

For voice control, the surgeon must wear a microphone and prerecord a voice card that covers the set of movements possible with AESOP.

In 1994, the AESOP 1000 system became the world's first surgical robot certified by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. AESOP 2000, with the enhancement of voice control, and AESOP 3000, with seven degrees of freedom followed, within 1996 and in 1998, respectively. The redundancy of the AESOP 3000 provides more flexibility in endoscope positioning. Being simple to operate, reliable, and safe, AESOP soon gained popularity and by 1999 over 80,000 surgical procedures had been performed using AESOP technology (23-27).

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