Woke Studios designed the Neuralink surgical robot that was unveiled today by Elon Musk. Neuralink is a brain implant that enables humans to control technology with their thoughts.
Woke Studios was enlisted to collaborate with Neuralink technologists on a machine that could conduct an extraordinarily complex and high-risk surgical procedure: to implant the minuscule 'pill' and neural threads safely into the brain. While the benefits of the surgery could mean providing mobility to a person affected with paralysis, the risks of the operation mean the surgical robot has to be designed with zero room for error. The ultra-high bandwidth threads themselves are a fraction of the size of a human hair and must be inserted perfectly to receive thousands of data signals simultaneously from the neurons of the brain. If the robot - which can extend to almost eight feet in height and move in 5 axes - were to vibrate and shift even a fraction of a millimeter, the results could be catastrophic.
While the patient may not be awake to see the machine in action, it was still important to design a non-intimidating robot that can aesthetically live alongside the iconic machines in Musk's portfolio; it also needed to meet a long list of medical requirements in terms of sterility and maintenance, and provide safe and seamless utilization for its operators. The final design of the robot can be divided into three parts:
First, the head, where the human head is situated. This piece guides the surgical needle and is home to a plethora of cameras and sensors to perfectly capture the entire brain. A single-use bag seamlessly attaches with magnets around this zone to maintain sterility and allow for easy cleaning. The inner facade of the head is softly colored with angled wings to gently maintain the placement of the skull and provide a sense of visual comfort. While the operation may be intimidating and the original technology appeared similarly so, the 'head' design provides an anthropomorphic characteristic cognizant of similar, less invasive medical technologies.
Embracing visual asymmetry with soft, car-like curvature, the body of the machine provides the mechanics for controlled movement. Because white coloring is necessary for sterility, the design studio was able to provide a visual dynamic while enhancing safety through the use of color to highlight "pinch-points' - areas in which motion occurs that may injure an operator.
The body attaches onto the base, which provides weighted support for the entire structure and withholds the technology that allows the entire system to operate. The objective for the robot, despite its wildly futuristic nature, is to provide relatively autonomous procedures in a variety of settings, to allow for mass deployment.
Images: Courtesy of Woke Studios