Black Falcon flies away with $30,000 student prize

DN Staff

April 6, 1998

1 Min Read
Black Falcon flies away with $30,000 student prize

Cambridge, MA--The Black Falcon (no relation to Humphrey Bogart) earned its inventor, Akhil Madhani, the prestigious $30,000 Lemelson-MIT student prize. The Falcon, a teleoperated robotic surgical system, enhances the manipulative capabilities of surgeons performing endoscopic procedures. Madhani analyzed the mechanics of surgical tasks by examining dexterity issues as well as studying the mathematics of knot tying.

The system employs transmission mechanisms that minimize the size and complexity of the device. It will provide the surgeon with full 6-degree-of-freedom motion of a pair of miniature fingers deep inside the body. Madhani designed a control strategy that increase the dynamic range of the exertable forces by exploiting synergistic use of actuators. The device improves a surgeon's ability to manipulate tissue and to suture and tie knots. "The use of teleoperators will allow new procedures to be performed through small incision, reducing patient trauma," says Madhani.

The 29-year-old is currently involved in a collaborative effort with Dartmouth Medical Center that will culminate in surgical trials for the device. This is just one of five patents the winner has pending. Other inventions include: The Talon, a robotic wrist-and-hand system; a robotic head/eye system to study human and computer vision, and new software tools to design multi-limb mobile robots for hazardous clean-up and rescue tasks.

The Lemelson-MIT prize, open only to MIT graduating seniors and graduate students, seeks to recognize the nation's most talented inventors as well as to promote living role models in the fields of science, engineering, medicine and entrepreneurship. The award was established by Jerome and his wife at MIT in 1994.

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