French robotic specialist Robosoft has partnered with the European Mobile and Robotised Telechography (MARTE) project, to carry out the first robotic tele-ultrasound examination via satellite.

The company used its remotely controlled Estele robot with a wireless handset and developed using a robuBox software development kit, to perform an ultrasound from different locations, observed by a satellite TV screen.

The robotic ultrasound experiment took place between 6 June and 11 June in the eastern Mediterranean.

MARTE say the experiment was a world first, linking ultrasound specialist doctors based in medical centres in Cyprus to a project team on-board a cruise ship sailing in the Mediterranean Sea.

The communication link was via satellite technology and the ship’s Broadband Global Area Network technologies.

A spokesperson for the MARTE project predicted the project pointed the way to a future of European and global medical robotic applications. “The expertise of highly qualified radiologists, centralised in hospitals, will now be available to answer requests for remote ultrasound examinations, thus offering high-quality care to patients even in isolated areas.”

They added: “This remote diagnostic tool will also be accessible to patients located, for example, on board long-distance transport.”

Researchers at the PRISME Institute of the University of Orleans used the robuBox software development kit for satellite internet communication, to connect a control station in France with a remote robot carrying an ultrasound probe used to examine a patient onboard a ship sailing in the Mediterranean.

"These kinds of projects show the soundness of the generic approach used in the robuBOX", says Vincent Dupourqué, CEO of Robosoft. 

"The standard tele-ultrasound robot was originally delivered for use in a classic video-conferencing system over the phone lines. Thanks to the robuBOX development toolkit, included with the standard robot, a customer can add his own functionalities, and can also integrate the robot into a larger system,” he added.