Jessica Burgner-Kahrs How Can the Characteristics of Continuum Robots Be Optimized for a Specific Medical Application?
© Referat für Kommunikation und Marketing/Leibniz Universität Hannover
Gottfried Wilhelm 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 28,000 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: Leibniz Universität Hannover)
Laboratory for Continuum Robotics
The research focus lies on continuum robotics. In comparison to traditional robots, continuum robots are not composed of rigid links and discrete joints but characterized by a flexible and compliant backbone structure inspired by nature from elephant trunks, snakes, and tentacles. Thus, continuum robots achieve high dexterity and manipulability. In contrast to serial kinematic chains, the continuous structure allows for miniaturization such that continuum robots have high potential for mesoscopic and microscopic applications.
One of the research areas is the smallest continuum robot: a tubular robot (a.k.a. concentric tube robot). By axial rotation and translation of concentric, elastic tubes made of a shape memory alloy, continuum robots with a diameter comparable to those of medical needles can be realized. (Source: LKR)
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.
LT Video Publication DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10324
Task-specific Design of Tubular Continuum Robots for Surgical Applications
- Jessica Burgner-Kahrs
- Soft Robotics
- Published in 2015