Medical Robotics Magazine

The first and only commercial feature medical robotics news magazine, founded February 2007 by John J. Otrompke, JD, consultant and publisher


Medical Robotics Magazine is the world's first and only commercial feature news magazine devoted to all aspect of the medical robotics industry- including robotic surgery, physical therapy robots, hospital orderlies, and other topics related to robotic medicine. As a feature magazine, Medical Robotics features interviews, business news, conference coverage and editorials, as well as a generous portion of articles written by noteworthy robotics surgeons as well as clinical trials reports. MR has been on-line since 2007, and first appeared in print in January of 2008 at the annual meeting of MIRA (the Minimally Invasive Robotics Association) in Rome, Italy. Medical Robotics Magazine is copyrighted, features a nascent Board of Editorial Advisors, and is indexed by the U.S. Library of Congress. All contents (c) 2011 John J. Otrompke, JD Contact: John J. Otrompke, JD 646-730-0179

Friday, July 15, 2011

Self-Funded CYCOGS Robotics Manufacturer Applies for Second Patent,

Notwithstanding SBIR Grant Rejections

by John Otrompke

            Engineer and entrepreneur Wayland (Ty) Tobey, president of robotics manufacturer Cycogs LLC, has been so inconvenienced by the application process at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants program, that he didn’t even submit a third application as intended last December. The applications are usually about twenty pages long, and grant-fundign for phase I is around $100,000, according to Tobey.

And though he received a lukewarm reception at the hands of grants application reviewers, Tobey is nonetheless in the process of filing a second patent application for the company’s robotics drive.

            Tobey’s applications were rejected in April. “We received comments from the reviers such as , ‘over-ambitious’, ‘seems idealistic, unclear as to how to reach goals’, and  ‘no experience with mobility systems,’” said Tobey. “That last comment actually makes me mad. I presented at Robodev 2007 on mobility systems and I have a patent on a mobility system that is for sale now,” he said.

Other criticisms included that the company’s projects were too novel, that the proposals included too few benchmarks, and that the company has no funding track record, Tobey added.

CYCOGS, a privately held limited liability corporation formed in 2004, is located near Sauk City, Wisconsin. The company is self-funded, and initially planned to fund developmental robots including a  nurse's aide, a telemedicine robot and a physical therapy assistant, by selling components. Unfortunately, the recession of 2007 prevented the company from getting to market when it initially intended to, said Tobey.

Cycogs has succeeded in getting some products to market, though they have primarily been sold to hobbyists, Tobey said. “The modular components we are currently marketing are usable in general purpose robotics as well as other industries.  For example, our Wheel Assembly Module can be used for a robot, wheel chair or a powered cart,” he explained.

Other modules in development include the hybrid snake arm, and Cycogs’ sensor ring.  “That’s a rotatable ring of sensors that allows for ‘sensor amplification’ by rotating the sensors to cover a wider area than fixed sensors.  The hybrid snake arm is basically a snake arm robot connected to a rotary platform,” Tobey said.

                                    No Funding Sought for Snake-Armed Medical Robot

            For the SBIR grant, Tobey submitted two applications, including one for wheel modules, and another for co-robots. A third application, however, Tobey never submitted, which was for a hybrid snake-armed robot.
“For the whole complete robot, we have yet to find or create a name we like,” said Tobey. As for the combined robot, however,  “the combined equipment comprising the medium sized robot allows for the functionality to perform different tasks, which require a mobile robot with enough size, capacity and mass to move a good sized payload. The robot also has the ability to change its height, allowing the robot to tilt, which is needed for lifting heavy loads, and move on an inclined ramp or transverse doorways,” Tobey added.

The third application, never filed, was for the robot’s hybrid snake arms, which Tobey refers to as ‘Snarm.’

“These intelligent modular hybrid snake arms are each two meters ong and have a
very large donut shaped working envelope. “The arms can store themselves within the round robot body. The height adjusting ability along with the holonomic mobility allows our round robot to pick up a heavy object, rotate the robots body to place a wheel
under the load and lean the robot back.  This controls the overall center of gravity,” Tobey added. 
            Tobey said the company envisions a variety of medical functions for the device, including use as a nurse’s aide, a telemedicine robot and a physical therapy assistant.
            “One example of a telemedicine application is for a first responder, where the autonomous robot with human supervision and guidance performs basic assessment and first aid.  Besides sensor observations, the robot arms can perform some tasks and procedures, such as administering shots, collecting samples and physical patient manipulation,” Tobey said.

            The robot is 27 inches in diameter, 75 inches tall, and weighs around 600 pounds with batteries.

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