The US Army has awarded a contract to Energid Technologies through the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) for the development of robotics to help with airway management.

Under the contract, the company will develop a handheld lightweight robotic system capable of performing endotracheal intubation, which will involve clearing an injured soldier’s airway and inserting a tube to maintain oxygen flow on the combat field.

By using a new flexible tube manipulator which can be quickly and safely deployed inside a patient’s airway, Energid developed robotic mechanism integrates force feedback and video-tracking for real-time active motion compensation and control.

In addition, the robotic system also provides needed feedback to the operator for correct intubation and active liquid clearance.

To support control the system’s hardware, Energid is applying its commercial Actin robot control and simulation toolkit and its Selectin machine vision toolkit.

The project’s contracting officer’s representative at TATRC Nita Grimsley said the technology would be helpful to newly-trained first responders that are deployed with a unit because they don’t have the help of others or years of experience to fall back on.

“The nuances of endotracheal intubation can be difficult to perform under pressure, therefore a ‘tool’ that can assist the provider in re-establishing an airway without injuring the vocal cords would be beneficial,” Grimsley said.