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VD-1: World's first autonomous blood drawing device

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BRAVE (VD-1: World's first autonomous blood drawing device)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2020-12-31

~500 million blood draws are missed every year, with great consequences. The most important complication is nerve injury, occurring in approximately a million cases. Nerve injury can even lead to permanent disablement. In addition to direct complications for patients, blood drawing presents real issues for clinical laboratories. Blood drawing is the only step in the blood testing process that is not automated. The majority of lab errors occur during the blood draw, accounting for more than an estimated 160M diagnostic errors leading to misdiagnosis and -treatment plus ~€10B in yearly costs for society. Furthermore, operational costs for laboratories are high and blood drawing personnel is difficult to find.
The VD-1 can autonomously draw blood from patients. Willingness to use a device is very high. The majority of patients visiting the hospital for a blood draw are willing to try the VD-1. For laboratories, the VD-1 will reduce diagnostic errors because of standardization of the process. Moreover, labs can save on operational cost and increase capacity. The benefits are clear to our (European) potential customers, who have invested, signed letters of intent to purchase and are keen to collaborate.
The technology of the VD-1 (three patents applied) consists of real-time image recognition software based on AI, tested on a vast number of images, able to create a 3D vein image despite difficult conditions. Advanced robotic positioning ensures high needle precision, impossible to achieve by a human. For ultimate safety, the needle position can be adjusted based on patient movements. The overall objectives of the BRAVE project are to optimize prototype 2 and test this optimization in the BRAVE trial, subsequently industrialize and validate the positioning system with as result the fabrication of the 0-series.
We have optimized and verified system so it was ready for the BRAVE trial, including tuning and calibrations. The BRAVE trial was performed successfully, with an updated clinical testing plan for the next reporting period. In addition, we have selected key suppliers for the industrialization of the positioning system, and made large steps redesign of one hardware subcomponent.
In software, we have strengthened our deep learning architecture. We also developed and improved detection strategies which were also tested in our clinical study. Last, we improved our software architecture, including also selection of our operating system and design of safety systems.
In exploitation, we further expanded our European network of potential customers and partners. We also applied for additional patents.
Last, we have updated our planning and project management. We have grown the team from 15 to 27 highly skilled people and raised additional private funding.
In this project, we will finalize the design of the positioning system of the VD-1; building a robust and safe system for patients, that can be implemented on a global scale. In addition, we will further increase and intensify collaboration with partners across Europe for successful roll-out.
Through this project, we will able to automate an invasive medical procedure. This is breakthrough progress beyond the state of the art that has not been seen before in healthcare, which can help to alleviate the shortage of nursing personnel in Europe and beyond.
By automation we can more easily scale up resources in our global healthcare systems and increase their resiliency. This project forms the basis of a shifting paradigm.
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