From Da Vinci robosurgeons to helpful nursebots , robots are becoming commonplace in hospitals the world over -- and now researchers at Duke University have developed a rudimentary tabletop robot that uses 3D ultrasound technology to detect a 'lesion' in a simulated sponge breast, pinpoint its exact location, and perform a biopsy. All the calculations are performed by the device itself, using what has been described as "a basic artificial intelligence program." The next step in the research will be an upgrade that will that the robotic arm from three-axis to six-axis capability, and a change from the old sponge-based simulated breast to one made from turkey breasts, which approximates the density of human breast tissue. According to Stephen Smith, director of the Duke University Ultrasound Transducer Group, if things stay on track, robots will be performing routine breast exams and biopsies in five to ten years. Video after the break.

[Via PhysOrg]