By RICHARD MERRITT, Duke University News Service

Editor’s note: Local Tech Wire publishes selected stories from the news services of various universities as part of its UniversityTech coverage. LTW is enhancing its coverage of scientific and research efforts at regional universities where many of tomorrow’s discoveries are being made and the foundations of new companies are in the process of being created.

DURHAM, N.C. – As physician-guided robots routinely operate on patients at most major hospitals, the next generation robot could eliminate a surprising element from that scenario – the doctor.

Feasibility studies conducted by Duke University bioengineers have demonstrated that a robot – without any human assistance – can locate a man-made, or phantom, lesion in simulated human organs, guide a device to the lesion and take multiple samples during a single session. The researchers believe that as the technology is further developed, autonomous robots could some day perform many more simple surgical tasks.

“Earlier this year we demonstrated that a robot directed by artificial intelligence can on its own locate simulated calcifications and cysts in simulated breast tissue with high repeatability and accuracy,” said Kaicheng Liang, a former student in the laboratory of Stephen Smith, director of the Duke University Ultrasound Transducer Group at the at Twitter.