Neuralink is developing a technology that will empower people with paralysis to live more independent lives by allowing them to control assistive devices with simply their thoughts. We worked with the Neuralink engineering team to create enclosures for their surgical robot. As the industrial design partner, we designed the exterior panels to give the robot a futuristic aesthetic while also being able to provide patients with a sense of comfort and confidence.
How it works
The R1 robot, which carries out the surgical procedure, has a series of sensors and actuators carefully positioned around the patients’ head that needed to be strategically protected by the enclosures we designed.
From Beast to Beauty
We wanted to take the complex electronics and motion systems that the engineering team had developed and cloak them with a skin that was less intimidating and more approachable. By softening up the overall form and reducing the visual complexity we wanted to create something that would welcome potential patients going in for surgery. We also wanted to create a set of continuous surfaces that would make the robot easier to wipe down and keep clean.
A robot that’s designed with safety in mind.
We were constantly in discussion with the Neuralink engineering team around ways that we would need to make this robot safe for operators to be around. That meant identifying and eliminating dangerous pinch points while still maintaining the design intent of the robot.
Designing for Movement
The robot has five degrees of freedom that enable the robot to maneuver smoothly around the patient’s head. To design the enclosures, we had to gain a strong understanding of the multiple axes of motion and range of motion in order to ensure that there were never any situations where the robot would collide with itself.
The Design Process
Concept Sketching was critical to developing a design language for the robot. We explored ways to create a set of shapes, surface treatments and color palettes that would suit the rest of the equipment that belongs in a surgical setting.