A prototype robot from Eindhoven University of Technology enables surgeons to perform vibration-free and very accurate operations. Movements performed by the surgeon with two joysticks are accurately ‘scaled’ to the arms of the robot.
Mechanical engineer Raimondo Cau, PhD student at TU/e, together with professor Maarten Steinbuch developed the robot specifically for reconstructive surgery, in which tissue is moved to recover. Attaching blood vessels and nerves to new tissue requires such precision in this type of surgery that few surgeons are available and waiting lists are long.
The robot contains two joysticks and a foot pedal that must be operated by the surgeon. The large movements of the surgeon’s arms are translated into hyper-precise movements of the robotic arms with scalpel or other tools. The foot pedal allows to determine the accuracy.
The joystick system filters out hand vibration and supports force feedback to give the surgeon a clear indication of minute touches. In addition to a five times higher accuracy than is possible with human hands and a reduction in the workload for the doctor, the advantage is that new operations are within reach that human surgeons are unable or hardly able to do. The researchers will further develop the prototype together with the Maastricht University Medical Center.