Russell H. Taylor has over 40 years of professional experience in the fields of computer science, robotics, and computer-integrated interventional medicine. He received a Bachelor of Engineering Science degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1970 and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1976. From 1976 to 1995, he was employed as a Research Staff Member and manager at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center, with the exception of two years spent helping establish a robot product group in IBM's Boca Raton, Florida facility and a sabbatical at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His early work at IBM focused primarily on robot programming systems, geometric task analysis, automation systems and technology for manufacturing applications. In addition to his research activities, he was the principal developer of the AML robot programming language and was the system architect for the IBM 7565 robot product.
Medical Robotics Work at IBM: In the late 1980’s Dr. Taylor became interested in surgical applications of robotics and led research activities in this area at IBM Research until he moved to Johns Hopkins University in September 1995. Briefly, this work included the development of the prototype of what became the “Robodoc” system for joint replacement surgery; development of a surgical planning and execution system for craniofacial osteotomies; and a robotic system (called “LARS”) for minimally-invasive endoscopic surgery. Much of this work was ground-breaking at the time. The Robodoc system was the first robotic assistant to be used in a major surgical procedure. Key innovations included the use of CT images to plan the procedure, co-registration of the preoperative plan and robot to the patient in the operating room, and control of the robot to machine the desired shape accurately and safely. Although now routine, each of these steps required significant innovation. The craniofacial surgery system (developed with Court Cutting, MD) was one of the first uses of surgical navigation for non-neurosurgical applications.
Similarly, the LARS system introduced many features and concepts that are now commonplace in medical robots. Among the most significant was the introduction of a “remote center-of-motion” (RCM) structure to provide a kinematically constrained pivoting motion at the point where the endoscope or tool enters the patient’s body. The RCM provides high dexterity about the entry point while also simplifying other aspects of the system design and simplifying safety implementation. Other features introduced in the LARS systems include a variety of surgeon-robot interfaces, including voice interfaces, a novel joystick device that could be clipped to a surgeon’s tool, visual tracking of surgical tools, automated positioning of tools to targets designated by the surgeon saving and returning the endoscope to designated views, and “virtual fixtures” for enforcing safety barriers and for helping a surgeon position and manipulate surgical tools.
The RCM mechanism, together with its variants, has become ubiquitous in medical robot systems, both in academia and in commercial applications, ranging from the DaVinci surgical robots (over 4200 installed worldwide) to smaller clinically applied systems (such as separate ophthalmology robots developed by KU Leuven and by Preceyes, Inc.), and to many research systems for minimally invasive surgery, image-guided injections, and microsurgery.
The Robodoc and LARS systems both provided a form of hand-over-hand “steady hand” robot control, in which the surgeon and robot both hold the surgical tool and the robot moves to comply to forces exerted by the surgeon on the tool. Because the robot is doing the actual motions, the motion can be very precise and the effects of hand tremor are eliminated, and virtual fixtures are readily incorporated into the constrained optimization framework that Dr. Taylor developed for control of the LARS system. The steady-hand cooperative control paradigm has subsequently been applied to many medical robots both at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere. Product examples include Stryker’s Mako® orthopaedic robots and a novel robot developed at Johns Hopkins for head-and-neck microsurgery that is being commercialized by a startup company, Galen Robotics, and the KU Leuven system mentioned above.
Academic Career: Since September 1995, Prof. Taylor has been a Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University, with joint appointments in Mechanical Engineering, Surgery, and Radiology. In 2011, he was named the first John C. Malone Professor in the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering in recognition of leadership and accomplishment in multidisciplinary research. Currently, he is also the Director of the Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics (LCSR) and of the (graduated) NSF Engineering Research Center for Computer-Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology (CISST ERC).
At Johns Hopkins, he has continued to make substantial contributions in all aspects of medical robotics, including mechanism development, robot systems and control, image analysis and image guidance, human-machine interfaces, and a wide range of application areas, including orthopedics, minimally-invasive endoscopic surgery, image-guided needle placement, ophthalmology, otology, laryngology, sinus surgery, and radiation oncology. In one recent count, he is listed as the sole author or co-author of 155 journal articles, 342 refereed conference papers, 52 refereed abstracts in proceedings, 19 book chapters, 1 book, and 83 U.S. and international patents. More information about his research may be found on the research pages of his personal web site, on his “Computer-Integrated Interventional Systems” (CIIS) personal lab site, and in his CV.
Professional Service: Prof. Taylor is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of The IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, and has served on numerous other editorial boards for international journals, including his current service as an Associate Editor for The IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging. He has organized and co-chaired important academic conferences in the area of medical robotics and computer-assisted surgery, and has served on many conference boards and program committees. He has served on numerous advisory boards and review panels for the National Science Foundation and other US Government agencies, as well as for non-US Governments and organizations. Currently he is on External Advisory Boards for the Center for Image-Guided Innovation and Therapeutic Intervention at Toronto Children’s Hospital, the Institute of Image-Guided Minimally Invasive Hybrid Surgery at IHU Strasbourg, and the Computer Assisted Surgery Laboratory of Excellence in Grenoble, among others.
Awards and Honors: In 1994, Dr. Taylor was elected to be a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers "for contributions in the theory and implementation of programmable sensor-based robot systems and their application to surgery and manufacturing". He is also a Fellow of the American Institute on Biomedical Engineers (1998), a Fellow of the Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Surgery (MICCAI) Society (2009), a Fellow of the Engineering School of the University of Tokyo (2010), and a Member and Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (2015, 2017). Dr. Taylor has received numerous other awards recognizing his technical accomplishments and leadership, including four IBM Outstanding Achievement Awards (1982, 1984, 1987, 1993), four IBM Invention Awards (1983,1991, 1992, 1994), an IBM Group Achievement Award (1991), the Maurice Müller Award (2000) for excellence and leadership in computer-assisted orthopaedic surgery, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Pioneer Award (2008) “for pioneering work in medical robotics and in the theory and practice of programmable automation systems”, the MICCAI Society Enduring Impact Award (2010), the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Technical Field Award “for contributions and leadership in the field of surgical robotics and computer-integrated interventional systems” (2015), and the Honda Prize “for his tremendous contributions in the development of medical robots, technological evolution in this field, and producing highly skilled technical personnel” (2015). Dr. Taylor was elected as a Member of The National Academy of Engineering in 2020 “for contributions to the development of medical robotics and computer-integrated systems.”