Hi-Tech Robot Gives Surgeons a Hand, but...wait a minute. You may have already seen this system in action. In the James Bond film "Die Another Day," which hit movie screens in 2002, the da Vinci™ Surgical System landed an unlikely supporting role. In one of the earliest scenes, at St. Mary's Hospital in London, the machine scans Bond's body...(read more).
"Imperial College's involvement came about in January when Professor Ara Darzi, professor of surgery at the faculty of medicine's academic surgical unit at the St Mary's campus, collaborated with Eon Productions over featuring the Da Vinci machine, the first minimal access system to eliminate tremor in a surgeon's hand, in a early scene.
The robot's three arms can be seen early in the film scanning Bond's body and taking a blood sample. Production designer Peter Lamont and art director Mark Harris spent time at St Mary's Hospital, London, learning about the machine's ingenuity as they practised sewing stitches, picking up balls and putting them in boxes - standard practice for those learning how to operate with the machine.
'I'd seen the Da Vinci™ on Tomorrow's World and in Time magazine. It's an amazing machine for non-invasive surgery and I thought we'd have to make a mock-up. I was delighted when we found it at St Mary's,' said Peter, who originally wanted to be a surgeon before he won a scholarship to art school and went on to work on 17 Bonds. In 1997, he won an Oscar for Titanic.
[...]Sarah Robinson, product placement coordinator, said of Da Vinci's role in medicine: 'Both the producers and director thought this machine was fantastic; it's a very important part of the film'.
'It's very difficult to keep up with technology - we have to be one step ahead and try and come up with great new products which is where the Da Vinci came in. It was also incredible to see St Mary's hospital - we had a great day. We were definitely in awe of the work carried out there - our world is fantasy whereas St Mary's is real - we don't save lives.'
Professor Darzi has been fascinated with Bond films since very young. 'Surgeons and spies are alike as both aspire to serve their subjects with minimal fuss while using the best technologies around. Bond films have always been an inspiration to those with a technology interest, ' he said.
'I never thought that one day, the department I headed would be making a contribution. It's great that Imperial College's knowhow has made it to the movie screen'."
Article by Tanya Reed
=> University of Kentucky: "Remote-Control Surgery: Hi-Tech Robot Gives Surgeons a Hand", by Jeff Worley, updated June 6, 2005.
=> Newspaper of Imperial College London, Issue 123, November 13, 2002.