Connor Messer
Connor Messer
Conor Messer Soft robotics

Exploring soft robotic surgery

Conor Messer is a graduate of the bioengineering programme at Northeastern University in Boston, USA, and an American Fulbright Fellowship Scholar.

“Khalifa University had a particularly strong robotics institute, so I was able to put together a proposal to come here and pursue my research into soft robotics for cardiac surgery,” says Messer.

He has begun working with a team at the university to deepen his research into this emerging field of robotics, which holds great promise for surgeries that formerly required long patient-recovery times.

“Soft robots” are mechanisms with some level of elasticity built into their design, allowing them to compensate for error and conform to the organic shape of the body. The soft robot can find its way through the natural pathways of the body to anatomies that are impossible to access with a traditional rigid robot, because of its ability to bend and flex. 

“Surgical robotics might sound scary, but the soft robot is actually an analogue for the human body, because it mimics it and is able to interact with it in very natural ways,” says Messer.

It also has many other potential applications in the health and medical field, such as prosthetics and orthotics.

“It’s an incredible way to perform surgeries more safely, as it allows the surgeon to have greater precision and control, as well as being less invasive,” says Messer. “My time here is an opportunity to apply advanced engineering and design new products that impact people’s lives in a very meaningful way.”

Next steps

As a future-facing city that is exploring solutions to global problems, Abu Dhabi seeks out opportunities to support R&D and innovation. Part of that commitment is a Corporate R&D fund offering AED 4m in rebates to distinguished firms that wish to expand their R&D operations or commit to new projects in Abu Dhabi.

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