Pitt, Carnegie Mellon creating robotic trauma care system for combat casualties

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Carnegie Mellon University each received four-year contracts from the Department of Defense that total more than $7.2 million and are directed toward the creation of autonomous trauma care systems to stabilize injured soldiers in remote locations.

The "Trauma Care in a Rucksack" program will implement artificial intelligence into the backpack-sized kit to enable potentially life-saving medical interventions before a service person is evacuated or, when evacuation is not possible, while they are being treated in the field.

Pitt's scientists will provide real-world trauma data and medical algorithms to CMU roboticists and computer scientists, who will use that data to create a robotic suit. When an injured soldier is placed in the suit, embedded monitors will assess the injury so AI algorithms can determine appropriate interventions and robotically deliver intravenous fluids and other medications.

"We see this as being an autonomous or nearly autonomous system — a backpack containing an inflatable vest or perhaps a collapsed stretcher that you might toss toward a wounded soldier. It would then open up, inflate, position itself and begin stabilizing the patient," said Artur Dubrawski, PhD, a research professor at CMU's Robotics Institute. "Whatever human assistance it might need could be provided by someone without medical training."

Additionally, the researchers noted, once the project has met its immediate goal of serving the U.S. military, the technology could be expanded to civilians at risk of injury in remote areas: hikers and mountain climbers, astronauts and people on submarines or boats, as well as rural health clinics without trauma care capabilities and areas affected by natural disasters.

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