Towards hybrid control of a flexible curvilinear surgical robot with visual/haptic guidance

Abstract

Comprised of multiple telescoptic precurved tubesthat can independently rotate and translate, concentric tuberobots (CTRs) are favorable in minimally invasive surgeriesthanks to their small size and considerable dexterity along withcurvilinear accessibility. However, there is a lack of investigationon improvement of the surgeons’ perception which in turn canbe used to guide the telemanipulation. In this work, we proposedan eye-in-hand configuration for the concentric tube robot byadding an endoscope to the tip of the inner tube, which providesdirect and intuitive visual sensing ability for the operator. Basedon this visual feedback, we further developed two frameworksfor the hybrid control of CTR, namely Teleoperation BeforeVisual Servoing (TBVS) and Teleoperation During Visual Ser-voing (TDVS). The structures of these two frameworks wereelaborated with key algorithms derived. The effectiveness ofthe proposed methods were demonstrated through a series ofexperiments both in free space and in a confined environment(inside a skull model). The results manifested that the visualguidance had the potential of assisting the operator to controlthe CTR more efficiently.

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