Thursday, June 24, 2010

Quanser R&D Teleoperation Setup in the Hands of NeuroArm Scientists.

Last week, I had the chance to visit great people and hi-tech facilities at the Health Research Innovation Centre at University of Calgary. This is where some best surgeons and researchers in the world are collaborating on a second generation of neuroArm, the world's first MRI-compatible surgical robot capable of both microsurgery and image guided biopsy. Using this ground breaking technology, the surgeon operates the robot from a computer workstation within the strong magnetic field of the intraoperative MRI environment. The team is led by Dr. Garnette Sutherland, professor of neurosurgery in the University of Calgary and a Calgary Health Region top neurosurgeon.

NeuroArm is one of the few robots in the world that is used for a procedure called telesurgery. In most telesurgical operations, the surgeon controls the motion of a slave robot within the patient’s body by operating a master robot and using visual feedback and image guidance.

A tele-surgical setup can provide surgeons with minimally invasive approaches and a new level of dexterity and precision. In addition, it gives them access to environments that a surgeon’s hand can not normally reach such as MRI environments or sub-millimeter regions within the patient’s body. At a more advanced level, it will allow the skills and expertise of specialized surgeons like Dr. Sutherland to be available to patients worldwide.

The complexity of the surgical operations necessitate immersive interaction with the patient’s body. It has been proven that haptic feedback along with visual feedback adds significant advantages to surgical performance. In other words, the forces sensed by the robotic tools inside patient’s body can be applied back to the surgeon through the master robot in the form of kinesthetic and tactile cues.

Adding the sense of touch to a telesurgical operation introduces many new challenges to mechatronics engineers and control scientists. As a pioneer in the field of Haptics and Teleoperation, Quanser is collaborating with neuroArm engineers in a close relationship. Mr. Alexander Greer, neuroArm project’s robotics engineer is gathering high-end robots at their advanced lab facilities. His aim is to conduct research on haptically enabled telesurgery.

Quanser Teleoperation Setup in Health Research Innovation Centre at University of Calgary

In my trip to Calgary, I delivered one of Quanser’s latest R&D teleoperation equipment. The system consists of our augmented 7DOF high definition haptic device and our latest open-architecture articulated robot. The end-effector of the robot is equipped with a custom made tool designed and manufactured at Quanser. Programming and control design is through our real-time software QUARC. The system is also equipped with high definition force torque sensing. Quanser expertise in mechatronics and control has resulted in an advanced bilateral teleoperation system with high fidelity force feedback. This system will be used by skilled neuroArm engineers for further research and development.

Quanser Teleoperation Setup in Health Research Innovation Centre at University of Calgary

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