While I was back to Intuitive in February to meet some of their great people, I started to collect some interesting systems developed by external groups to work with the da Vinci. (Beyond the in-house development, such as the single-site tools.)
Primarily, the MIMIC dV trainer has already become an integrated producut of Intuitive. You can learn more about the origins ofthe simulator here. There have been other HW+SW simulators developed as well; the most advanced is probably the RoSS,but these is also an interesting one from China, where they fully identified the kinematic parameters of the robot.
Many groups got interested in working with the da Vinci (e.g. for skill assessment and event analysis), but only few got the chance to easily hook up with the system using the research API. As Intuitive puts it, it is closed for conficentiality, safety reasons, to support resources and the provide competitive advantage to key partners. To our knowledge), only the Hopkins group has a read-write API. Thus people at UPenn developed the VerroTouch system, that uses accelerometers to identify all motions of the arms. (More details here.)
Further, BlakeHannaford’s group (Biorobotics Lab) at UW came out with the concept of SurgTrak, an affordable da Vinici data recording tool. The system consists of synchronized video and surgical tool motion recording unified by custom software. Video is recorded at up to 30 frames per second from the DVI output of the da Vinci master console using an Epiphan DVI2USB device. Tool motion data is recorded at 30 Hz. Tool position and orientation are captured with a 3D Guidance trakSTAR magnetic tracking system. Grasper and wrist position is recorded by measuring the angular position of the four spindles driving the four tool degrees of freedom. Custom USB-enabled hardware was developed for this task including a set of inexpensive potentiometers that extract absolute spindle angle as well as additional environmental signals such as tool contact. Data streams from the video recording, position recording and wrist signal recording are united using Visual C++ software running on a Windows 7 based laptop computer utilizing the windows multimedia timer to enforce a consistent sampling rate.
Of course, new instruments require new design of the OR, for which you can find someguidelines here.
Image credit: - Intuitive: History, Present, Future of Robotic Surgery, 2011