Design of a low-cost tactile robotic sleeve for autonomous endoscopes and catheters
Recent developments in medical robotics have been significant, supporting the minimally invasive operation requirements, such as smaller devices and more feedback available to surgeons. Nevertheless, the tactile feedback from a catheter or endoscopic type robotic device has been restricted mostly on the tip of the device and was not aimed to support the autonomous movement of the medical device during operation. In this work, we design a robotic sheath/sleeve with a novel and more comprehensive
... more comprehensive approach, which can function for whole body or segment-based feedback control as well as diagnostic purposes. The robotic sleeve has several types of piezo-resistive pressure and extension sensors, which are embedded at several latitudes and depths of the silicone substrate. The sleeve takes the human skin as a biological model for its structure. It has a better tactile sensation of the inner tissues in the torturous narrow channels such as cardiovascular or endoluminal tracts in human body and thus can be used to diagnose abnormalities. In addition to this capability, using the stretch sensors distributed alongside its body, the robotic sheath/sleeve can perceive the ego-motion of the robotic backbone of the catheter and can act as a position feedback device. Because of the silicone substrate, the sleeve contributes toward safety of the medical device passively by providing a compliant interface. As an active safety measure, the robotic sheath can sense blood clots or sudden turns inside a channel and by modifying the local trajectory and can prevent embolisms or tissue rupture. In the future, advanced manufacturing techniques will increase the capabilities of the tactile robotic sleeve. © The Author(s) 2020.