Known as the CardioArm, the curved robot has a series of joints that automatically adjust to follow the course plotted by the robot's head. This provides greater precision than a flexible endoscope can offer. "It's certainly easier to control," says Robert Webster III, a professor at Vanderbilt University who works on flexible medical probes and was not involved in the CardioArm project.
The CardioArm is operated using a computer and a joystick. It has 102 degrees of freedom, three of which can be activated at once. This allows it to enter through a single point in the chest and wrap around the heart until it reaches the right spot to, say, remove problematic tissue. "The nice thing about [the] design is that each joint follows where you went in space.