Duke University researchers have released feasibility studies that may represent the first concrete steps toward creating robots capable of conduct surgery with little to no guidance from human physicians, United Press International reports. Published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, the study involved a rudimentary tabletop robot whose "eyes" featured 3-D ultrasound technology. In addition, “an artificial intelligence program served as the robot's ‘brain,’ taking real-time 3-D information, processing it and giving the robot commands to perform,” UPI reports. According to the director of the university's Ultrasound Transducer Group, “the computer was able to direct the robot's actions’ for a number of tasks. For instance, a second study published in the April issue of the journal Ultrasonic Imaging indicates that the robot could successfully perform a simulated needle biopsy. Noting that this may be “the first proof-of-concept for this approach,” he adds that, "given that we achieved these early results with a rudimentary robot and a basic artificial intelligence program, the technology will advance to the point where robots -- without the guidance of the doctor -- can someday operate on people" (UPI, 5/8/08).