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The use of continuum robots – robots that are not composed of rigid links and joints but are continuously bending structures – opens up completely new possibilities for surgery: With this tool surgeons can reach locations in the human body which they would not be able to reach with traditional surgical instruments. This enables them to e.g. remove brain tumors in a minimally invasive way. There are a vast number of parameters to be selected when designing these structures, like diameter, tube thickness, and material. JESSICA BURGNER-KAHRS explains that the ideal combination depends not only on the application but also on patient characteristics. In this video, she describes how the research team tackled the challenge of selecting the right robot design by developing an optimization algorithm that makes use of evolutionary concepts from biology. Testing their simulation results in the laboratory proved that the optimization works well, but also revealed a number of open questions.


Jessica Burgner-Kahrs is Professor at the Leibniz University in Hannover, where she conducts research at the Hannover Centre for Mechatronics leading the Laboratory for Continuum Robotics. Burgner-Kahrs dedicated her doctoral and post-doctoral research to improving the technology used in surgery, e.g. developing a new robotics system for automatic bone cutting or minimally-invasive brain tumor removal.
For her innovative research contributions in continuum robotics she was awarded a number of national awards and scholarships, including the Heinz Maier-Leibniz Prize 2015 given to young academics for their outstanding achievements, as well as the Lower Saxony Science Award 2014. Burgner-Kahrs is appointed member of the Young Academy (Junge Akademie), a joint project of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.


University of Hanover (Leibniz Universität Hannover)

In 1831, founded by the scholar Karl Karmarsch, the “Higher Trade School of Hannover” started with only 64 students. Today there are more than 25,000 students in the natural sciences and engineering, the humanities and social sciences as well as in law and economics. In the future, too, studying, teaching and research are to be enjoyable, and therefore one of the declared goals of Leibniz Universität Hannover is to continually improve the quality of teaching and research. ( Source )
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Original publication

Task-specific Design of Tubular Continuum Robots for Surgical Applications

Burgner-Kahrs Jessica
Soft Robotics
Published in 2015

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