A team of roboticists at EPFL has developed an advanced system that combines multi-limb manipulation with shared control augmentation, bringing a significant advancement to laparoscopic surgery. The primary objective of the system is to reduce the workload on surgeons while improving precision and safety during surgical procedures. Clinical trials are currently ongoing in Geneva after successful training of specialized medical professionals on the system.
This groundbreaking system enables surgeons to control two additional robotic arms alongside their own natural arms. The control is facilitated through haptic foot interfaces with five degrees of freedom. One foot interface controls an endoscope/camera, while the other controls an actuated gripper. The innovation lies in the shared control framework, which allows seamless collaboration between the surgeon and the robotic assistants within the surgical workspace. This framework ensures that the demanding precision and safety requirements of laparoscopic surgery are met.
Controlling four arms simultaneously, especially with the feet, presents unique challenges and can be physically demanding. To address this complexity, the robots actively assist the surgeon by predicting their intentions and adaptively tracking laparoscopic instruments using the camera. Additionally, the system provides assistance for more accurate tissue grasping, further enhancing the overall surgical procedure.