The program focusses on the development of robotic platform technologies that will allow surgeons to perform complex surgical tasks, such as tissue retraction, suturing and resection, within the lumen of hollow visceral organs including the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract.
Current technologies like conventional endoscopes, do not provide adequate dexterity, controllability, and force exertion capabilities to easily perform such surgical tasks, while at the same time being able to navigate within the endoluminal and extraluminal environment. We aim to overcome the limitations of existing devices by employing novel manufacturing, actuation, proprioceptive sensing and environment sensing methodologies, to develop soft robotic devices that can effectively and safely navigate a lumen, while providing sufficient degrees of freedom and appropriate forces for complex tissue manipulation.
Patented designs, control algorithms, sensing and machine learning methodologies based on work by the Imperial College team will be employed. Unique concepts include Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT), soft robotics, autonomous guidance and navigation, energy-shaping control, and super-resolution.