The Medical Robotics and Autonomous Systems (MedRAS) Division develops novel robotic solutions, controlled remotely or autonomously, that team with humans to reduce task saturation, perform in contexts that are unsafe for humans, and ultimately increase the capability and thus capacity of caregivers at the point of need.
Medical Manned-Unmanned Teaming
Machine Perception (AI/ML)
Systems Engineering and Integration
The purpose of the MEDRAS division is to support the TATRC mission of “fusing data, humans, and machines into solutions that optimize warfighter performance and casualty care” by augmenting medical capability and capacity through the application of emerging technologies in robotics and autonomous systems.
From U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command publication - The U.S. Army describes MDO as part of the joint force, can counter and defeat a near-peer adversary capable of contesting the U.S. in all domains. The nexus of emerging technology in robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) with Artificial Intelligence (AI) promises to change the nature of warfare. The MEDRAS division’s mission is extend these emerging technologies to medical applications to address operational gaps in theater health services support and force health protection.
MEDRAS is a robust group of research scientists and technologists from the fields of artificial intelligence, engineering, computer science, and robotics, as well as experienced research managers. The MEDRAS team is charged with planning, resourcing, and executing the relatively new Army Science and Technology task area in Medical Robotic and Autonomous Systems and has continued to push forward in evolving this new program. In 2019 a MEDRAS Steering Committee continued refining the research roadmap that was developed, resourced, and briefed to the MRDC Director for Medical Simulation & Information Sciences Research Program (MSISRP) and approved by both the MSISRP Integrated Product Team and the MRDC Board of Directors.
Overall, TATRC’s MEDRAS division is focused on five primary core competency areas of research funded by both the Defense Health Agency (DHA) funded Joint Program Committees (JPC) and the Army S&T MSISRP:
Extend the reach of remote medical experts to the point of need: The application of robotics and related engineering disciplines to provide standoff and remotely operated capabilities for combat casualty care, operational medicine, and force health protection. This area focuses on technologies that allow local care providers to be assisted by medical robotics, either driven by conventional tele-operation from remote experts or driven by AI or closed-loop control. This area includes forward deployed telerobotic surgery, AI-driven robotic sensing, planning, and actuation, and semi-autonomous and remotely-managed care systems.
Augment care provider’s capability and capacity in pre-hospital settings: This area focuses on applying robotics and AI to augment the capabilities of Combat Medics, and other forward care providers, to lessen their cognitive and physical loads during pre-hospital care and to provide standoff tools to assist in combat casualty care. This area includes technologies for standoff vision-based detection, assessment, and monitoring of combat casualties, as well as automated data capture to provide required inputs to patient documentation, clinical decision support, and logistics tracking systems. This area also researches and prototypes robotic enablers for applications in other convergent scientific domains.
Autonomous transport of medical supplies and patients: The growing use of unmanned air and ground vehicles also has the potential to expedite the evacuation of casualties or the delivery of supplies to support field care when evacuation is not possible, all while minimizing risk to Soldiers. The focus of this area is RAS-enabled Casualty Evacuation (“RASEVAC”) and the delivery of critical supplies, including fresh whole blood, via autonomous Unmanned Aerial systems to the tactical edge, to support future medical missions during MDO. This area also includes researching means of using common Army RAS Programs of Record for extraction of casualties out of harm’s way to reduce the risk to life and limb for other Soldiers.
The overall goal is to conduct research and concept demonstrations of enabling technologies in diverse scientific domains, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, mechanical engineering, computer science, bio-monitors, sensors, medical diagnosis, and treatment. The purpose of this is to enable Force Health Protection Mission Command & Virtual Health Support for Multi Domain Operations at the point of injury, during pre-hospital evacuation, and at Roles 1-3 Medical Treatment Facilities in remote locations and in hazardous or denied areas. This research will augment existing Army capability as a Medical Force Multiplier through: manned and unmanned teaming; autonomy and networked systems to decrease the human burden of casualty care; expanded capacity; and increased lethality of the force due to advanced care being provided further forward in connected and disconnected communications environments.Specific Goals:
Continue to be the Command’s center of expertise in enabling technologies for medical robotics and autonomous systems.
Continually improve and expand collaborative relationships with relevant joint and individual service combat developers: maneuver, maneuver support, and service support Centers of Excellence (COE) and their Capability Development Integration Directorate (CDID) and battle labs; Combatant Commands and their operational component organizations; relevant Program Executive Offices (PEOs) and their Product Managers (PMs); and Research Development Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) laboratories from all four military services, The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), other federal agencies, private industry, and academia.
Involve operational warfighter users from both the conventional and special operations forces in the design, development, test, and evaluation of prototype solutions to telemedicine, force health protection, and health services support operational gaps within the ground component forces and casualty evacuation from the points of injury through health services Role 3.
Develop relevant laboratory and operational prototypes up through Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 6, integrate as systems of systems, and evaluate in the field with Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen. Leverage all available funding sources from Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR), through OSD (Defense Health Agency) Joint Program Committee, to joint and separate service Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) funds.
Transition operational prototypes to relevant Programs of Record for further advanced development, acquisition, and fielding.