Project MARCUS

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  • Robotized Platform for assistance in NOTES/SILS techniques

    Funding Organization: Ministerio de Ciencia e innovación. CICYT

    Reference: DPI2010-21126-C03

    Participants: Universidad de Málaga, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Fundación CARTIF

    Period: From 01/01/2011 to 31/12/2013

    Main Researcher: Víctor Fernando Muñoz Martínez



System Abilities


ConfigurabilityMechatronic Configuration1Start-up Configuration. The configuration files, or the mechatronic configuration can be altered by the user prior to each task in order to customise the robot system in advance of each cycle of operation.
InteractionHuman-Robot5Task sequence control. The system is able to execute sub-tasks autonomously. On completion of the sub-task user interaction is required to select the next sub-task resulting in a sequence of actions that make up a completed task.
Human-Robot Feedback2Vision data feedback. The system feedbacks visual information about the state of the operating environment around the robot based on data captured locally at the robot. The user must interpret this visual imagery to assess the state of the robot or its environment.
Human-Robot Safety1Basic Safety. The robot operates with a basic level of safety appropriate to the task. Maintaining safe operation may depend on the operator being able to stop operation or continuously enable the operating cycle. The maintenance of this level of safety does not depend on software.
DependabilityDependability2Fails Safe. The robot design is such that there are fail safe mechanisms built into the system that will halt the operation of the robot and place it into a safe mode when failures are detected. This includes any failures caused by in-field updates. Dependability is reduced to the ability to fail safely in a proportion of failure modes. Fail safe dependability relies on being able to detect failure.
MotionUnconstrained4Position constrained path motion. The robot carries out predefined moves in sequence where each motion is controlled to ensure position and/or speed goals are satisfied within some error bound.
ManipulationGrasping1Simple pick and place. The robot is able to grasp any object at a known pre-defined location using a single predefined grasp action. The robot is then able to move or orient the object and finally un-grasp it. The robot may also use its Motion Ability to move the object in a particular pattern or to a particular location. Grasping uses open-loop control.
Holding1Simple holding of known object. The robot retains the object as long as no external perturbation of the object occurs.
Handling1Simple release. The robot is able to release an object at a known pre-defined location, but the resulting orientation of the object is unknown. The object should not be prematurely released.





Minimally invasive surgery has required the acquisition of new skills on the part of surgeons and the creation of new tools, an area in which robotics is an invaluable help. The current trend is towards reducing the number of incisions practiced on the patient to a minimum. SILS (Single Incision Laparoscopic Surgery) and NOTES (Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery) techniques have thus emerged, and these require a new generation of robotic tools.

This project addresses the subject of developing new robotic tools that are useful for both of the previously mentioned techniques and that cover both the preoperative and the intraoperative periods. Specifically, it deals with the design and development of a robotic platform capable of placing a microrobot equipped with sensors and surgical tools within the abdominal cavity to work collaboratively with the surgeon. The system will be programmable off-line to establish a master plan for use during the operation and in intraoperatively via a human-machine multimodal interface. On the other hand, the robotic system itself consists of two positioner arms and a micro-robot. The two arms, by use of magnetic fields, will move and position the micro-robot in the operative field inside the abdomen. As a configuration of one of the robotic positioner arms, we have considered a hyper-redundant structure that will hold the micro-robot at one end for entry into the abdominal cavity. The micro-robot will be able to release itself from the hyper-redundant structure, and with the aid of the other positioner arm, which will have a standard configuration, it will be moved through the abdominal wall with the use of a magnetic field. The micro-robot will be able to unfold small arms on which cameras, touch sensors, light sources or small surgical tools will be positioned.

During the development of this project, techniques for an intraoperative simulator will be addressed that incorporate models based on real data from the operative field, as well as the possibility of updating this information during surgery; this will serve as the basis for the human-machine multi-modal interface mentioned above. In order to integrate all of the system elements, strategies will be developed for planning and control of the movements of both the two robotic arms and the micro-robot in response to the off-line programming of the surgeon and his commands during surgery. Both the direct teleoperation and the performance of automatic actions that collaboration with the surgeon involves are taken into account. Finally, to verify the work done, a series of in-vitro experiments is anticipated.



Proposed goals and achievements


1. Design and development of a robotic system composed of an abdominal miniature robot and external positioning arms to perform specific task during the intervention

This objective considers the identification of those tasks which may be performed using these kind of robots, and the elaborations of their specifications, requirements and functionalities. Additionally, this objective includes the implementation of basic movements control and communications..

Achievements - Universidad de Málaga:

  • Design and construction of three miniature robots: a camera robot, a lighting robot and a grasper robot.
  • Acquirement of two robotic arms, which have been adapted and programmed to handle the miniature robots.
  • Development of in-vitro experiment to test the basic functionality of the system.

Achievements - CARTIF:

  • Improvement of the mechatronic design to optimize the size of the robot modules, the energy consumption, and the temperature of the electromagnetic actuators and its response time.
  • Selection and acquirement of the robot control card, and development of the prototype of the hyper-redundant robot that will be used in the final integration.

2. Design and development of a user machine interface based in an intraoperative simulator for the programming of the new robotic tools

This objective tackles the design of an interface able to work with data of a particular patient, which will be used to define off-line the mission of the robotic system. Likewise, this interface will be used for the intraoperative control of the system.

Achievements - Universidad de Málaga:

  • Implementation of the control architecture to communicate the real robotic system and the environment simulated. This will allow for the off-line computation of the miniature robots trajectories.
  • Improvement of the surgical gestures recognition and its integration with a laparoscopic images analysis system, which substitutes the tracker 3D in the estimation of the surgical instruments position.

Achievements - Universidad Miguel Hernández:

  • Dynamic simulator able to simulate deformations of deformable tissue, typical of SILS/NOTES environments. This simulator has been performed based in libraries OGRE, PHYSX.
  • User interface to connect different commercial haptic devices: Phantom Omni and Falcon. Additionally, it has been developed a new haptic interface based on the use of a multi-gesture trackpad.
  • Integration of the endoscopic camera and the ultrasound scanner video streaming in the user interface.
  • UDP communication for ROS systems.

Achievements - CARTIF:

  • Preliminary definition of the control architecture necessary to define the functionality and communication of the user machine interface.

3. Development of motion planning strategies and interactive collaboration among the different elements of the robotic systems and with the surgeon.

This objective involves the development of motion planning methodologies for the automatic guidance of the robotic systems in collaboration with the surgeon. To this aim, it will be used sensorial feedback of several sources and the problem of the coordination human-machine will be tackled.

Achievements - Universidad de Málaga:

  • Development of the interfaces which allow for acting on the miniature robots degrees of freedom to be able to integrate them in the global architecture.
  • Development of basic primitives for the elemental movements of the miniature robots.
  • Motion of the camera of the miniature robot and hybrid force position control to displace the external robotic arms along the abdominal wall.

Achievements - Universidad Miguel Hernández:

  • Development of a module for scripts generation and to send them through UDP to be able to reproduce the simulations performed with the simulator module with the real systems.

Achievements - CARTIF:

  • Development and implementation of basic motion primitives in the hyper-redundant robot. The combination of these basic primitives allows the execution of complete tasks during the intervention.

4. Integration and evaluation of the efficacy of the robotic systems through the execution of a set of in-vitro experiments.

This objective consists on the integration of all the technologies developed during the project in a set of demonstrations. This way, a documented study will be performed to define the advantages of the robotic system with respect to conventional surgery, as well as the problems arised.

Achievements - Universidad de Málaga:

  • Integration of the system hardware elements. It has been developed a mechanic platform to hold the robotic arms and the electronics have been integrated in a control box.
  • Integration of the software in this platform and development of the first integration tests of the intraoperative simulator and the human machine interface.

Achievements - Universidad Miguel Hernández:

  • Se han elaborado dos aplicaciones reducidas (que no incluyen el módulo de simulador) para que sean probadas en cada uno de los otros dos subproyectos, de forma que se compruebe el funcionamiento de las comunicaciones basadas en ROS.
  • Integración, dentro del módulo simulación, de los dispositivos robóticos de los otros subproyectos para que sean controlados con los dispositivos hapticos que se conecten a la interfaz.
  • Se está añadiendo el modelo del entorno quirúrgico del demostrador final.

Achievements - CARTIF:

  • Development of a two basic applications to test them in the subprojects, to validate the ROS communications.
  • Integration of the robotic devices of the other subprojects to control them with the haptic devices which are connected to the interface.
  • The model of the surgical environment is being added to the final demonstrator.



Main Results


Surgical Mini-robots managed through magnetsMARCUS: Demonstration Platform




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