The REACH lab develops solutions related to Continuum Medical Robotics and Interleaved Manipulation. The lab’s work in Continuum Medical Robotics is focused on designing, modeling, and controlling compliant manipulators for minimally-invasive surgical interventions. Commonly referred to as catheters, these devices are often constructed of rubber-like materials and are commonly actuated by cables, giving them impressive safety characteristics but also leading to nonlinear hysteretic behaviors which limit procedure complexity and success. The following research is focused on maintaining the inherent safety of catheters while avoiding or compensating for their nonlinear behavior.
The interleaved continuum-rigid manipulation approach advocates the combination of flexible, actively actuated continuum segments with small, rigid-link actuators . The small rigid-link joints are interleaved between successive continuum segments and provide a redundant motion capability. The active continuum segments provide large motion capability through, for example, a combination of tendon-driven articulation and telescoping motions. The compliant atraumatic construction of the continuum segments enhances safety while the small size of the rigid-link joints allows them to be embedded inside the compliant segments. The repeatable, predictable motion of the small rigid-link joint actuators allow for active correction of motion errors and increased dexterity. The higher levels of performance that the approach conveys to flexible manipulators can enable a level of cooperative manipulation required for emerging co-robotic techniques, including safety critical applications such as interventional cardiac procedures, while maintaining safety.
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