Researchers from Kings College London (KCL), University College London (UCL), and Moorfields Eye Hospital have embarked on a groundbreaking collaborative project to redefine the use of robotics in eye surgery. The team, led by Dr. Christos Bergeles, aims to enhance the reachability and dexterity of robots used in these delicate procedures.
While previous research has focused on determining the appropriate length, stiffness, and flexibility of robots for specific locations, little attention has been given to designing robots for dexterity – the ability to reach a specific point from any possible orientation. Dr. Bergeles explains, "We wanted to bridge this gap by developing a design that combines both reachability and dexterity, revolutionizing the field of eye surgery robotics."
The researchers have introduced a pioneering global metric that allows for the quantitative comparison of continuum robots. These robots, which resemble an elephant's trunk in their movement, possess the unique ability to flex and change shape to navigate around delicate anatomical regions. Additionally, they can precisely control the position and orientation of their tip, mimicking the dexterity of a human hand. This groundbreaking technology enables surgeons to reach the bottom part of the eye, where damaged retinal cells can be replaced with precision, ultimately improving surgical outcomes.
Dr. Bergeles is particularly excited about the potential impact of their research, stating, "This paper has been many years in the making and represents a tremendous effort from our team. I believe it has the power to revolutionize the evaluation of continuum robots, and I am eager to implement its conclusions in our future work."
Building upon their findings, Dr. Bergeles plans to develop micro-surgical robots that go beyond the capabilities of conventional surgery. By implementing the design algorithms outlined in their research, he aims to revolutionize robotics in eye surgery under a new collaborative program involving KCL, UCL, and Moorfields Eye Hospital.
"The development of these systems will breathe new life into the field of surgery, enhancing practice and improving patient outcomes. It supports our vision of restoring sight and provides compelling evidence for the role of smart instrumentation technologies in the operating room," affirms Dr. Bergeles.
This pioneering research has been published in the prestigious journal IEEE Transactions on Robotics, cementing its significance and impact within the field of robotics.