Technical Issues Sensing and Control on Surgery Robotics

In tele-operated systems for minimally invasive or microsurgical procedures, there is substantial room for improvement of control and sensory feedback interfaces. In general, the human factor aspects of these systems have been little studied. Research questions include mater manipulator configuration, mapping between master and remote robot coordinate systems, scaling laws for micromanipulation systems, and video, force, and tactile feedback fidelity and bandwidth requirements.

Image-guided procedures have been an area of great success for robotic surgery, but there are many unresolved issues. Improved automatic segmentation and planning systems promise to improve efficiency and accuracy. Areas for improvement in registration include elimination of invasively placed fiducials and methods for non-rigid registration and tracking of tissue deformation in real time. The use of 2D imaging modalities such as ultras sound in combination with 3D tracking may lower costs and enable wider application of image-guided techniques.

For autonomous robotics in general, almost all successful applications over the past three decades have come in areas where tasks are narrowly specified and the environment is predictable, as in manufacturing. The early success of robotics in orthopedic surgery is due at least in part to the fact that bones are essentially rigid and relatively straightforward to manipulate, immobilize and cut.

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