INI: Electromagnetic needleless injector with halbach array towards intravitreal delivery

Electromagnetic needleless injector with halbach array towards intravitreal delivery

IEEE Access 2017


The fear of pain and needles deter some patients from seeking intravitreal treatment, which drives our group to develop an needleless device for performing intravitreal injections. A prototype for an electro-magnetically actuated needleless injector, based on Halbach arrays, is described and characterized in a lab setting. The implication of the prototype for needleless ocular drug delivery is investigated. This investigation is intended to eventually improve drug delivery of glaucoma medication enabling safe needleless approaches. We detail the design aspects of the injector and characterized the device with custom-made phantoms. It was observed that, despite delivering the drug bolus to the center, the viscous vitreous phantom indicated vorticities similar to counter rotating vortex pairs, which could damage the retina. The observed peak velocity during the phantom experiments was 6.1mm/sec at the retinal layer, indicating that the delivery bolus can impart shear forces to the retina via the vitreous.


Design and Characterization of an Electromagnetic Needleless Injector Based on Halbach Design Towards Intravitreal Delivery

Supporting videos

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The results comparing the measured Fz, the force in the normal direction to the sensor surface, and Mag, the magnitude of the force vector, across the various depths of injection and at the two voltage points.

Fig 24.  Left (15V) Right (20V); Top (Fz) Bottom (Mag)

Comparison between the four depths did not show significant differences:

Changing the distances between the sensor surface and the injection nozzle does not appear to have a distinguishable relationship. Note: each data plot is the average from 3 data samples. This is indicative of the following; regardless of the size of the orbital, the peak force observed is going to be dependent on the injectant properties. We note that more experiments should be done for characterization of distances between 20mm and 12.5mm, we did not test this range due to concerns over damaging the sensitive ATInano17, and hence the initial expectation of measuring 20 to 35mm and anticipating an extrapolate-able relationship. The rational for these distances assumes an orbital diameter of 25mm and the drug is delivered to the center at 12.5mm. The 25mm distance is likely to be near the retinal layer and 20mm would be in between.

Test in phantom chamber:

The dimension of the vitreous phantom chamber is a cylinder with height 17mm and diameter of 25mm. This relates to a volume of approximately 8345uL. This is significantly larger than the vitreous volume in human eyes. Assuming the human vitreous to be 4000uL, the height of our cylinder should be 8mm. In such a scenario, the rotational symmetry in the spherical orbital is lost and hence the flow will be more a keen to a 2D planar flow rather than a 3D flow. Our selection of 17 mm was a compromise between maintaining the 3D flow while allowing an observable 2D slice of the injection profile. In addition, the selection of the 10.9 mm by 17 mm access point is arbitrary. Its purpose was to allow ease of filling and removal of vitreous phantom while maintaining the spherical shape as much as possible. The current dimensions relates to a chord at 11.25mm from the center of the circle, thus maintaining at least 95% of the diameter.


Related Publication

Electromagnetic needleless injector with halbach array towards intravitreal delivery (in press) IEEE Access, 2017

Simultaneous Robot-World, Sensor-Tip, and Kinematics Calibration of an Underactuated Robotic Hand with Soft Fingers


Simultaneous Robot-World, Sensor-Tip, and Kinematics Calibration of an Underactuated Robotic Hand with Soft Fingers

Ning Tan, Xiaoyi Gu, and Hongliang Ren Senior Member, IEEE

Abstract—Soft robotics is a research field growing rapidly with primary focuses on the prototype design, development of soft robots and their applications. Due to their highly deformable features, it is difficult to model and control such robots in a very precise compared with conventional rigid structured robots. Hence, the calibration and parameter identification problems of an underactuated robotic hand with soft fingers are important, but have not been investigated intensively. In this paper, we present a comparative study on the calibration of a soft robotic hand. The calibration problem is framed as an AX=YB problem with the partially known matrix A. The identifiability of the parameters is analyzed, and calibration methods based on nonlinear optimization (i.e., L-M method and interior-point method) and evolutionary computation (i.e., differential evolution) are presented. Extensive simulation tests are performed to examine the parameter identification using the three methods in a comparative way. The experiments are conducted on the real soft robotic-hand setup. The fitting, interpolating, and extrapolating errors are presented as well.

Index Terms—Soft robotics, calibration and identification, robotic hand, AX=YB, hand-eye calibration, tendon-driven robot

Force/Torque Sensor for Tele-operated Catheterization Procedures


A tele-operated robotic catheterization system can significantly alleviate the surgeons from radiation exposure and fatigue resulted from long standing time with protective suits. Proximal force/torque signals imply the critical information about the contact forces between the catheter and its surrounding structures. This paper presents a compact, cost-effective force and torque sensing device suitable for catheterization procedures to measure the proximal force/torque signals of the input catheter. The device consists of a rotatable and linear retractable mechanism, a laser mouse sensor, and a coil spring. As the stretched, compressed, and twisted values vary due to the sliding joint, the force and torque signals can be computed based on the Hooke’s law. The proposed sensing device has many advantages such as cost-effective, easily miniaturized and customized, and can be extended to the MRI compatible sensors. The experimental results with step response and time-varying loads by comparing to an ATI Nano17 force/torque sensor show that the Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE) for force and torque measurement are 0.042 N and 0.228 mNm respectively.

Video PPT demo


J. Guo; M. Li; P. Ho & H. Ren Design and Performance Evaluation of a Force/Torque Sensor for Tele-operated Catheterization Procedures IEEE Sensors Journal, 2016, PP, 1-8

Surgical Manipulator based on Parallel Mechanism


We presents a 5-DOF manipulator which consists of three parts, 1-DOF translational joint, a bendable skeleton (2-DOF for Omni-directional bending motion), and a rotatable forceps gripper (1-DOF for rotation, 1-DOF for opening/closing). The bendable segment in the manipulator achieves two orthogonal bending DOFs by pulling or pushing three parallel universal-joint-based shaft chains. Forward and inverse kinematics of the bendable skeleton is analyzed. The workspace calculation illustrates that the structure of the three parallel shaft chains can reach a bending angle of 90 degree in arbitrarily direction. The reachability of the manipulator is simulated in Adams. According to the surgical requirements, the manipulator is actuated to draw circle during the tests while the end effector is kept bending at 60 degree. The results show that the end effector can precisely track the planning trajectory (precision within 1 mm).

Video demo


Q. Liu; J. CHEN; S. Shen; B. Zhang; M. G. Fujie; C. M. Lim & H. REN Design, Kinematics, Simulation of Omni-directional Bending Reachability for a Parallel Structure Forceps Manipulator BioRob2016, 6th IEEE RAS/EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics, June 26-29, 2016, Singapore, 201

Data-driven Learning Intelligent Control for Flexible Surgical Manipulators


Automate Surgical Tasks for A Flexible Serpentine Manipulator via Learning Actuation Space Trajectory from Demonstration

Background: Accurate motion control of flexible surgical manipulators is crucial in tissue manipulation tasks. Tendon-driven serpentine manipulator (TSM) is one of the most widely adopted flexible mechanisms in MIS for its enhanced maneuverability in torturous environment. TSM, however, exhibits high nonlinearities and conventional analytical kinematics model is insufficient to achieve high accuracy.
Methods: To account for the system nonlinearities, we applied data driven approach to encode the system inverse kinematics. Three regression methods: Extreme Learning Machine (ELM), Gaussian Mixture Regression (GMR) and K-Nearest Neighbors Regression (KNNR) were implemented to learn a nonlinear mapping from the robot 3D position state to the control inputs.
Results: The performance of the three algorithms were evaluated both in simulation and physical trajectory tracking experiments. KNNR performs the best in the tracking experiments with the lowest RMSE of 2.1275mm.
Conclusions: The proposed inverse kinematics learning methods provide an alternative and efficient way to accurately model the challenging tendon driven flexible manipulator.
Keywords: Tendon-driven serpentine manipulator; surgical robotics; Inverse kinematics; Heuristic Methods

Demo video at:


  • W. Xu; J. Chen; H. Y. Lau & H. Ren Data-driven Methods towards Learning the Highly Nonlinear Inverse Kinematics of Tendon-driven Surgical Manipulators International Journal of Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery , 2016, 1-13
  • W. Xu; J. Chen; H. Y. Lau & H. Ren Automate Surgical Tasks for A Flexible Serpentine Manipulator via Learning Actuation Space Trajectory from Demonstration ICRA2016, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2016, –



We present a novel flexible endoscope (FE) which is well suited to minimally invasive cardiac surgery (MICS). It is named the cardioscope. The cardioscope is composed of a handle, a rigid shaft, a steerable flexible section, and the imaging system. The flexible section is composed of an elastic tube, a number of spacing disks, a constraint tube, and four wires. It employs the constrained wire-driven flexible mechanism (CWFM) with a continuum backbone, which enables the control of both the angulation and the length of the flexible section. Compared to other endoscopes, e.g., rigid endoscope (RE) and fixed-length FE, the cardioscope is much more dexterous. The cardioscope can bend over 180 deg in all directions, and the bending is decoupled from the distal tip position. Ex vivo tests show that the cardioscope is well suited to MICS. It provides much wider scope of vision than REs and provides good manipulation inside confined environments. In our tests, the cardioscope successfully explored the full heart through a single hole, which shows that the design is promising. Despite being designed for MICS, the cardioscope can also be applied to other minimally invasive surgeries (MISs), such as laparoscopy, neurosurgery, transnasal surgery, and transoral surgery.

Demo video


  • Z. Li; M. Zin Oo; V. Nalam; V. Duc Thang; H. Ren; T. Kofidis & H. Yu Design of a Novel Flexible Endoscope- Cardioscope Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics, ASME, 2016, 8, 051014-051014
  • Z. Li; M. Z. Oo; V. D. Thang; V. Nalam; T. Kofidis; H. Yu & H. Ren Design of a Novel Flexible Endoscope – Cardioscope 2015 IDETC: ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences , 2015

Shape Morphing Microscale Soft Robotic Actuators


The micro actuator has been studied for its application in micro operations such as manipulating cellular aggregate, the tissues or drug delivery. The traditional actuation methods include thermo-mechanical actuation, electromagnetic actuation, electrostatic actuation and pneumatic actuation. Among these actuation methods, pneumatic actuation has the advantage of not generating heat and current during actuation.
We investigate
1) a streamlined and standardized fabrication procedure to make sub-millimeter scale soft pneumatic actuators (SPA) with customizable bending modalities achieved by shape engineering. Preliminary models are also given to interpret width-based shape engineering for customization and to compare the bending angle and radius of curvature measured from the characterization experiments.
2) a new micro pneumatic actuator consisting of two biocompatible materials is designed, fabricated and tested. The actuator has one bending degree of freedom and the largest bending deformation is about 115°.


  • X. Liang; Y. Sun & H. Ren A Flexible Fabrication Approach towards the Shape Engineering of Microscale Soft Pneumatic Actuators IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2016, 1-6
  • X. Liang; C. Lee & H. Ren Towards a Micro Pneumatic Actuator with Large Bending Deformation for Medical Interventions 7th WACBE World Congress on Bioengineering, 6th to 8th July, 2015, Singapore, Springer International Publishing, 2015, 52, 76-79
  • P. M. Khin; J. H. Low; S. Kukreja; H. Ren & R. Yeow Soft Haptics Using Soft Actuator and Soft Sensor BioRob2016, 6th IEEE RAS/EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics, June 26-29, 2016, Singapore, 2016

An adjusted dipole model for rectangular electromagnetic coils


Magnetic actuation is an efficient way for remote wireless control of micro-robots. One key factor for efficient actuation is an accurate mapping of the magnetic field components and the field gradients that generated by the magnetic sources. Usually, magnetic dipole model or interpolation method is used to estimate the magnetic field. These methods are not well suited for the control of micro-robots by electromagnetic coils. In this paper, we present an adjusted magnetic dipole model for the rectangular electromagnetic coil. The proposed adjusted dipole model is based on the magnetic dipole model. This model can provide accurate estimation of the magnetic field and gradient, meanwhile simplifying the calculation. Experimental results show that the proposed model work well and better than the original magnetic dipole model.

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Motion Planning of Flexible Manipulators by Learning from Human Expert Demonstrations


Motion Planning of Multiple-segment flexible soft, and continuum Flexible Manipulators by Learning from Human Expert Demonstrations

Multiple-segment flexible and soft robotic actuators exhibit compliance but suffer from the difficulty of path planning due to their redundant degrees of freedom, although they are promising in complex tasks such as crossing body cavities to grasp objects. We propose a learning from demonstration method to plan the motion paths of flexible manipulators, by statistics machine-learning algorithms. To encode demonstrated trajectories and estimate suitable paths for the manipulators to reproduce the task, models are built based on Gaussian Mixture Model and Gaussian Mixture Regression respectively. The forward and inverse kinematic models of soft robotic arm are derived for the motion control. A flexible and soft robotic manipulator verifies the learned paths by successfully completing a representative task of navigating through a narrow keyhole.


Demo video at:



  • H. Wang; J. Chen; H. Y. Lau & H. Ren Motion Planning of IPMC Flexible Manipulators by Learning from Human Expert Demonstrations ICRA2016, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2016
  • J. Chen; H. REN & A. Lau Learning Reaching Movement Primitives from Human Demonstrations with Gaussian Mixture Regression and Stabilized Dynamical Systems International Conference on Control Science and Systems Engineering ICCSSE 2016, 2016
  • J. Chen; W. Xu; A. Lau & H. REN Towards Transferring Skills to Flexible Surgical Robots with Programming by Demonstration and Reinforcement Learning The Eighth International Conference on Advanced Computational Intelligence (ICACI2016), 2016
  • J. Chen; W. Xu; H. Ren & H. Y. Lau Automate Adaptive Robot Reaching Movement Based on Learning from Human Demonstrations with Dynamical Systems ROBIO2016, 2016

Ultrasound Assisted Guidance with Force Cues for Intravascular Interventions

Project Goals

Image guidance during minimally invasive cardiovascular interventions is primarily achieved based on X-ray fluoroscopy, which has several limitations including limited 3D imaging, significant doses of radiation to operators, and lack of contact force measurement between the cardiovascular anatomy and interventional tools. Ultrasound imaging may complement or possibly replace 2D fluoroscopy for intravascular interventions due to its portability, safety, and the ability of providing depth information. However, it is a challenging work to perfectly visualize catheters and guidewires in the ultrasound images. In this paper, we developed a novel method to locate the position and orientation of the catheter tip in 2D ultrasound images in real time by detecting and tracking a passive marker attached to the catheter tip. Moreover, the contact force can also be measured due to the length variation of the marker in real time. An active geometrical structure model based method was proposed to detect the initial position of the marker, and a KLT (Kanade-Lucas-Tomasi) based algorithm was developed to track the position, orientation, and the length of the marker. The ex vivo experimental results indicate that the proposed method is able to automatically locate the catheter tip in the ultrasound images and sense the contact force, so as to facilitate the operators’ work during intravascular interventions.


People Involved

Research Fellow: Jin Guo
Project Investigator: Hongliang Ren

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