This tabletop robotic device can accurately steer needles and catheters into tiny blood vessels with minimal supervision. (Photo: Martin Yarmush and Alvin Chen)

Rutgers University engineers have created a tabletop device that can draw blood or insert catheters to deliver fluids and drugs. The device can accurately pinpoint blood vessels, improving success rates and procedure times compared with healthcare professionals, especially with difficult-to-access blood vessels.

The robotic device combines artificial intelligence with near-infrared and ultrasound imaging to perform complex visual tasks like identifying the blood vessels from the surrounding tissue, classifying them, and estimating their depth, followed by motion tracking.