STIFFness controllable Flexible and Learn-able Manipulator for surgical OPerations
STIFF-FLOP aims at developing a highly dexterous soft robotic arm able to locally control its stiffness for both being compliant with the environment and accomplishing complex surgical tasks.
There are limitations on modern laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgical systems due to restricted access through Trocar ports, lack of haptic feedback, and difficulties with rigid robot tools operating inside a confined space filled with organs. Yet biological “manipulators”, like the octopus arm and the elephant trunk, can manipulate objects while controlling the stiffness of selected body parts and being inherently compliant when interacting with objects.
This project aims at overcoming the drawbacks of current robotic manipulation concepts and to move into a new era for flexible robotics with great promise for many applications areas including minimally invasive surgery.
The main role of the Surgical Robotics group in STIFF-FLOP is to develop the manipulator with controlled stiffness and with the ability to squeeze through narrow gaps and openings, thus leading to increased safety especially when in contact with human tissues. For this task, the team working on STIFF-FLOP will take advantage of the experience of the Soft Robotics team and of the Surgical Robotics team, in order to make a true step forward in the field of flexible robotics for surgical applications.
King's College London, University of London - European Association for Endoscopic Surgery - Fundacja Rozwoju Kardiochirurgii, Foundation of Cardaic Surgery Dvelopment - Hebrew University - Italian Institute of Technology - Przemyslowy Instytut Automatyki i Pomiarów, Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements - Shadow Robot Company - Tecnalia Research & Innovation - Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, The BioRobotics Institute - University of Torino - University of Surrey - University of Siegen