HSMR2023 Workshop: Autonomous flexible surgical robots: where we are and where we are going



The development of flexible surgical instruments is taking Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) to hard or previously inaccessible anatomical areas using natural orifices or through small incisions. However, reliable and precise control of flexible tools remains a major challenge due to non-ergonomic design, non-intuitive steering and lack of shape sensing and visualisation technologies. Robotic approaches could overcome these limitations by integrating sensors, actuators, and reasoning mechanisms for navigating through such constrained environments, increasing consistency and the overall outcome of the procedure. Introducing robotic (partial) autonomy is believed to be one of the most promising ways to render this problem manageable for the operator/clinician. This workshop highlighted the latest advances in embedding autonomy for Flexible Robot Assisted-MIS (FRA-MIS) procedures. It provided an overview of the main technical challenges of FRA-MIS, and presented the latest solutions to address unmet clinical needs.

The workshop will involved clinicians and academic researchers, making it a combined forum for open questions regarding the prospective direction of the field in the next 5 years and identifying aspects of high interest both for companies and clinical centres. Moreover, it addressed low-level research problems such as sensory inputs, the mechanical design of the robot, and algorithmic development for motion planning, i.e. topics of interest for early-stage researchers and students. The workshop featured a round-table discussion.


Ameya Pore, University of Verona, Italy/Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain
Di Wu, KU Leuven, Belgium/Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
Zhen Li, Politecnico di Milano, Italy/Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
Diego Dall’Alba, University of Verona, Italy
Emmanuel Vander Poorten, KU Leuven, Belgium
Mouloud Ourak, KU Leuven, Belgium
Arianna Menciassi, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy
Paolo Fiorini, University of Verona, Italy