Innovations in Surgery Using Soft & Continuum Robots

with  Tayfun Efe Ertop, Vanderbilt University
Monday, February 20th, 2023 at 10:30am
117 Randolph Hall

 Traditional rigid link robots have revolutionized surgery in the last few decades. Today Soft & Continuum Robots, sitting at the cutting edge of robotics research, are enabling a whole host of new surgical applications. Soft & Continuum Robots provide superior dexterity in a smaller footprint than traditional rigid link robots. They can change their shape, be deployed through tortuous paths, get deformed by external forces, and still perform their task with high success. These features make these new robots perfectly suited for innovative surgical techniques like natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES), in which the surgery is performed through natural openings on the body like urethra or mouth without the need for an external incision. In this seminar, I will talk about two minimally invasive robotic surgery applications from my research. The first one is a robotic system that performs biopsies in the lung using Steerable Needles. I will cover the journey from bench-top experiments to successful in vivo experiments for this project. Secondly, I will go over the project about suturing through endoscopes using Concentric Tube Robots. I will present the new procedure we developed for suturing and share the results of our successful ex vivo experiments showing the feasibility of this approach. In addition to these two projects, I will also talk about a novel Continuum Shape Sensing Technique for Soft Robots, which utilizes electrical pulses sent along the robot body. This technique can enable proprioception (self-sensing of body pose) in soft robots, similar to an elephant knowing the shape of its trunk at any given time. This sensing method paves the path towards building highly accurate soft robot based surgical tools that can sense deformations along their entire body.

Tayfun Efe Ertop is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Vanderbilt University. He received his M.S. and B.S. (with a minor in Mechatronics) degrees from Middle East Technical University. He graduated as the valedictorian from his B.S. program that year. His research interests lie in the Design, Sensing, and Control of Soft and Continuum Robots with Applications to Medicine. He aims to solve important clinical problems through engineering and innovation with his research.

Host: Professor Saied Taheri