Multipurpose virtual robot helps in cancer research


A company based in the city of Brno recently announced the creation of what they call the first Universal Information Robot. The company says that the robot can help software firms to radically reduce costs for the creation and maintenance of information systems. Also, at the moment, the robot is helping to sort out 30 years' worth of data collected on cancer treatment.

The virtual robot, created by the Brno based eTrium Corporation is a step from information systems towards virtual employees - business assistants. The robot itself has no material body.

"The robot lives in cyberspace, in the world of data applications and intranet and internet."

Zdenko Stanicek is the chief software architect at eTrium Corporation.

"He works as a human assistant. We teach him concepts, facts and rules in natural language. And then we ask him what he knows, we give him new information and he helps us like an assistant."

The robot adjusts its language to the environment it is working in. It is capable of communicating in a number of languages and can also translate between languages. Filip Prochazka is the chief constructor of the robot.

"A typical application is to help us maintain overview over complex data sources in a simple way. The robot can find hidden connections and discover new knowledge. An example can be our research project in oncology. There is a huge amount of data in the oncology area which surely stores extremely valuable knowledge but the data is disintegrated and there is so much of it that it is impossible for a human to extract the knowledge manually. So he needs some tools and one of these is our robot serving as an information assistant."

Filip Prochazka talking about a pioneering project currently run by Masaryk University and the Masaryk Oncology Institute for which eTrium Corporation has offered its Universal Information Robot free of charge. The robot is being trained to process and analyse medical data collected about cancer patients and their treatment during the last 30 years.

After three years of development and two decades of theoretical work the company would like to launch commercial production. They say all they need is an investor. Zdenko Stanicek again.

"We are negotiating with several investors but it is a long-term process. Here in Central Europe it is very hard to find investors for such innovative projects. Recently we established a partnership with one of the greatest IT companies in the USA and we hope the situation will change."