The i-Snake may sound like a cheap iPod peripheral, but it is actually the name of a revolutionary concept surgical robot, which hopes to advance keyhole surgery significantly. A team at Imperial College, London, has been awarded a £2.1 million ($A4.78 million) grant to work on the device, which will be an elongated tube with a series of motors, sensors and imaging tools.
The boffins are confident the robot will be able to aid in general laparoscopic surgery, but the researchers are intending its use to be specially designed for heart bypass operations. The benefits of such procedures against traditional surgery are numerous; patients have a reduced recovery time and incisions are rarely sizable. Given the miniscule scale in which the i-Snake needs to function, it will be quite a feat to have a working model that packs in all the desired features, but if anyone can do it, a team of leading researchers with almost $5 million are probably the best chaps for the challenge. [BBC News]