Algorithms for Compliant Insertion and Motion Control of Continuum Robots


This technology enables continuum robots (aka snake robots) to precisely navigate the intricate structures of deep anatomical passages during minimally invasive or natural orifice surgery. Collateral surgical damage is minimized by the force sensing capabilities of the algorithms used.

Challenges in Robotic Surgery

• Minimally invasive procedures and natural orifice procedures are limited by the absence of tools that can safely and precisely navigate the delicate passageways of such procedures

• Passively compliant devices have the necessary flexibility to navigate tight passageways, but the flexion of the device is not under the direct control of the surgeon

• The accuracy with which passively compliant devices can carry out a procedure is limited by the flexibility of the system

• There exists a need for inexpensive devices that can safely reach deep anatomical recesses without damage along the transverse path

Technology Description

The algorithms used in this technology enables continuum robots to actively react to external forces such as contact so as to minimize collateral tissue damage during deep access to anatomical features.

Commercial Applications

Continuum robots allow navigation into confined and unstructured environments, greatly expanding the types of procedures that can be done in a minimally invasive manner. This algorithm enables a new class of rapidly deployable robots that are capable of being inserted safely and rapidly into unstructured environments and minimizing interaction forces to prevent damage to itself and a delicate environment. Specific applications supported by this algorithm are NOTEs (natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery), minimally invasive surgery of the throat, trans-endoluminal surgery, trans-anal surgery, and many others.

Unique Features and Competitive Advantages

• With this algorithm flexible robots can now take advantage of the benefits of flexibility while also possessing the stability to preform precise procedures

• This algorithm allows a system to safely brace itself against the anatomy while ensuring that the tissue it contacts isn’t damaged

• Bracing increases the stiffness and accuracy at the tool tip while ensuring that sensitive tissue isn’t damaged

• Because the algorithm keeps the robot from damaging surrounding tissues, the robot can be safely and rapidly deployed into unstructured or uncertain environments

Intellectual Property Status

A PCT Patent application has been filed

Inventor Bio and Publications:

For more information: Goldman et al. (2011)
Nabil SimaanRoger GoldmanAndrea BajoJames NettervilleGaelyn Garrett
Licensing manager: 
Ashok Choudhury

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