Intuitive's patent portfolio
Intuitive has always spent a significant effort on its patent portfolio, reaching now thousands of granted and pending patents.
As a continuation of a 2009 patent, they have a solution to keep their force sensor-equipped tools clean:
A force transducer is coupled to a distal portion of a shaft of a surgical instrument. The force transducer includes proximal and distal portions, radial ribs, and a plurality of strain gauges. The radial ribs form a plurality of through passages. The surgical instrument further includes a flush manifold that receives a liquid from a proximal portion of the shaft, and that directs the liquid along a first subset of through passages of the plurality of through passages toward the distal portion of the force transducer. A plenum at the distal portion of the force transducer collects the liquid from the first subset of through passages and redirects the liquid back toward the proximal portion of the shaft along a second subset of through passages of the plurality of through passages different from the first subset of through passages.