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Stiffness: Controllable Robots for Minimally Invasive Surgery
23rd March @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Modern surgical robotic systems such as the da Vinci Surgical System have been employed to conduct minimally invasive or keyhole surgery. Despite a number of notable advances over current laparoscopic methods, such as reduced training time for the surgeons, ease of use of the robotised system and improved ergonomics for the surgeons, such robot-assisted surgical systems continue to make use of rigid instruments severely restricting the areas they can reach during operations.
Departing from these types of robots, which are fundamentally based on a structure composed of rigid link elements connected via joints, the EU project STIFF-FLOP (STIFFness controllable Flexible and Learnable manipulator for surgical OPerations) has created soft multiple-segment manipulators with controllable stiffness. I will highlight the conceptual ideas behind the project, report on our achievements and how these relate to safety considerations in the context of Robot-assisted Minimally Invasive Surgery (RMIS). Challenges emerging when departing from traditionally rigid instruments and progressing towards flexible and even stiffness-controllable surgical tools will be discussed.