The Eye Robot

One of the advanced stage research projects in the lab is the Eye Robot. This robot has a similar structure than the Stead-Hand Robot, using an X-Y-Z linear base stage and a 3 DOF upper stage the realize the motion around a Remote Center Point (RCM). The main purpose is retina surgery. In many cases, physicians have to cannulate a microvessel (down to 100 um in size) to resolve a plaque or for other resons. This is very challenging with free hand due to the physiological tremor, even under the used microscope. With the robot, the surgeon first defines the RCM (the penetration point through the iris), and the robot will only allow motions where the needle does not leave the RCM, therefore does not damage the iris any further. The surgeon holds the needle mounted to the tip of the robot that uses cooperative control (based on force sensing) to follow the desired motions. The results can be seen through a binocular (3D) digital microscope.
At this stage of the research, several volunteers were involved to test their ability with and without the robot. We had to cannulate vessels of a chicken embrio (in a 6-8 days egg) that has a similar vessel structure than the human retina. The task was not easy at all, especially without the robot, as you had to keep the needle in the vessel for 60 s. (To monitor this, air was blown through the needle; if you did it wrong, bubbles apperaed all around the scene.) The experiment justified that people without any specific training were already capable of taking advantage of the robot. The next step is to do the same experiment with surgeons.


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