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Arbeitstitel "Soft Magnetic Robots: Modeling, Design and Control of Magnetically Guided Continuum Manipulators"

Applicant Nelson Bradley
Number 185039
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Institut für Robotik und Intelligente Systeme ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Other disciplines of Engineering Sciences
Start/End 01.04.2019 - 31.10.2022
Approved amount 564'480.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Other disciplines of Engineering Sciences
Mechanical Engineering

Keywords (6)

Nonuniform Magnetic Field; Continuum robotics; Soft Robotics; Magnetic Manipulation; Magnetic Navigation Systems; Localization

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Flexible Soft Robotics verspricht die Präzision und Geschicklichkeit, die mit den klassischen, aber starren Roboterarmen in Verbindung gebracht wird, mit der Nachgiebigkeit und den gummiartigen Aktuatoren innewohnenden Sicherheit zu kombinieren. Solche Instrumente können eine Reihe von Anwendungengebieten haben. Besonders in der medizinischen Anwendung bieten diese Instrumente die Möglichkeit zur sicheren Inspektion, zum Medikamente abgeben oder Objekte in das Weichgewebe zu implantieren.
Lay summary

Flexible Soft Robotics verspricht die Präzision und Geschicklichkeit, die mit den klassischen, aber starren Roboterarmen in Verbindung gebracht wird, mit der Nachgiebigkeit und den gummiartigen Aktuatoren innewohnenden Sicherheit zu kombinieren. Solche Instrumente können eine Reihe von Anwendungengebieten haben. Besonders in der medizinischen Anwendung bieten diese Instrumente die Möglichkeit zur sicheren Inspektion, zum Medikamente abgeben oder Objekte in das Weichgewebe zu implantieren.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.07.2019

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Soft flexible robotics promises to combine the precision and dexterity associated with classical rigid robotic arms with the softness and intrinsic safety of rubber like actuators. Such devices can have a range of applications. Specifically, in medical applications, these devices provide a means to safely inspect, deliver drugs, or implant devices into soft tissues.
Lay summary

Soft flexible robotics promises to combine the precision and dexterity associated with classical rigid robotic arms with the softness and intrinsic safety of rubber like actuators.  Such devices can have a range of applications.  Specifically, in medical applications, these devices provide a means to safely inspect, deliver drugs, or implant devices into soft tissues. Current devices, like endoscopes, catheters, and steerable needles, rely on stiff materials. The forces necessary to move these stiff devices can be transmitted with internal tendons.  However, highly flexible and soft devices cannot use stiff tendons to control their motion. We, therefore, propose using magnets imbedded along the device and an external magnetic system to apply bending forces.  Thus, the devices can be very soft, as they do not need to structurally support internal tendon tensions.  These highly deformable devices can achieve highly curved follow-the-leader trajectories, enable new transorifice procedures to access places such as the bile ducts and gallbladder, or be used in very soft tissues like the brain.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.07.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
165564 Soft Magnetic Robots: Modeling, Design and Control of Magnetically Guided Continuum Manipulators 01.04.2016 Project funding
206033 Magnetically driven soft continuum robot-enabled localized prodrug delivery for cancer chemoimmunotherapy 01.06.2022 China 2016
198643 Understanding Pollen Tube Growth Inspires the Design of Autonomous Soft Robots 01.05.2021 Sinergia

Abstract

Soft continuum robotics combines the precision and dexterity associated with classical robotic arms with the compliance and intrinsic safety of rubber like actuators. These actuators can have a range of applications from lumen inspection and exploration, to microrobot locomotion, to object manipulation in constrained environments. Specifically in medical applications, these devices provide a means to inspect, deliver drug payloads, or implant devices into soft tissue while avoiding the stiffness mismatch between the tissue and the device, which can lead to unnecessary trauma. Common continuum manipulators, such as endoscopes, catheters, and steerable needles, rely on stiff constitutive materials so the forces and torques necessary for their motion can be transmitted along the body via tendons or concentric tubes. Designing devices that are composed of intrinsically soft components is difficult within this mechanical actuation paradigm, because the ability to transfer the mechanical actuation commands along the length of the device requires stiff tendons and large actuator forces to achieve the necessary bending moments and overcome friction. Magnetic actuation of these devices, however, does not carry the same constraints because force and torques can be applied directly to imbedded magnetic materials along the manipulator with a pervasive magnetic field. This allows the device to be composed of very soft materials that do not need to structurally support internal tendon tensions. This project theoretically and experimentally investigates robotic tasks performed by magnetic continuum manipulators (MCMs) that are steered by externally generated non-uniform magnetic fields generated by magnetic navigation systems (MNS). MCMs are soft robots that are essentially composed of a slender flexible body comprising a magnet at its distal tip. By generating an external magnetic field, these robots can be steered in a remote manner, thus, opening the way to navigation within the human vessels and cavities. Such robots exhibit a high potential for medical applications (e.g. drug delivery, RF energy delivery, tissue sampling) where their highly deformable soft structure ensures safety and adaptability to interaction with soft organic tissues. The use of these devices is, however, subject to fundamental scientific and technological issues including their fabrication, their control, and their analysis, which was the focus of our prior efforts. During the first phase of this project, our MCM technology, as well as our expertise in the field of their fabrication, analysis, and control, have been brought to a higher level of maturity. In the second phase of this project, we will develop application-driven devices to attain the next step toward their clinical-readiness. For this purpose, we will rely on the strong collaboration with medical institutes and hospitals that we have been building for the past three years. New targeted applications range from treatment of brain aneurysms within the Circle of Willis, to exploration of anatomical cavities such as the maxillary sinus or the middle ear are promising as an application for the MCMs. A particular emphasis will be placed on reliable control and localization of the tools for these specific applications, based on the outcome of our prior research. We will also develop our technologies and our fabrication methods of MCMs with the help of industrial and academic partners specialized in the integration of sensors and active parts within millimeter-scale catheters. With regard to fundamental engineering research, we will also extend our ability to understand and characterize the behavior of MCMs and MNS by exploring novel methods for their modeling and their analysis, making use of tools such as deep learning methods and numerical continuation.Expected outcomes from this application-driven project range from publications in high impact factor trans-disciplinary and robotic journals, to the development of medical robotic systems to a pre-clinical stage.
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