Project Description

The ATLAS is an Innovative Training Network - European Joint Doctorate project, funded under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement N. 813782.

This four year network aims to recruit outstanding candidates and allow them to master the different competences needed in the field of flexible robotics and intraluminal navigation, and establish a long term program of training to answer the need of experts in this field.

In order to autonomously steer flexible instruments through complex and fragile lumens, ATLAS’ research objectives involve step-changes in all essential aspects of surgical robotics:

  • stretching limits of actuation to distributed, precisely controllable, compliant mechanisms;
  • to distributed sensing, featuring proprioception of the own complex shape with exteroception;
  • real-time reconstructed models of the complex geometry and episode in the surgical workflow;
  • distributed control over the interaction with the lumen and cognition to act in this fragile context;

The project will target use-cases that belongs to the following

  • Colonoscopy and Gastroscopy
  • Uretroscopy
  • Endovascular catherization

A strong connection with hospitals and practitioners is foreseen encouraged, as well as the connection with high tech company and research institute in the field (see Partner Organizations).

The beneficiary network is composed by 7 universities:

  • KU Leuven (Belgium, coordinator)
  • Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies (Italy)
  • University Of Verona (Italy)
  • Polytechnic of Milan (Italy)
  • University of Strasbourg (France)
  • Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands)
  • Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain)

The ATLAS is composed by 15 individual projects

ESR 1: Development of ultra-thin multi-steerable catheter technology suited for soft-robotic navigation through complex vascular structures
ESR 2: Magnetic driving and actuation
ESR 3: Distributed proprioception for safe autonomous catheters
ESR 4: Intraluminal sensing for autonomous navigation in remote district
ESR 5: From local sensing to global lumen reconstruction
ESR 6: Computer vision and machine learning for tissue segmentation and localization
ESR 7: Simultaneous tissue identification and mapping for autonomous guidance
ESR 8: Image-based tool tissue interaction estimation
ESR 9: Surgical episode segmentation from multi-modal data
ESR 10: Automatic handsfree visualization of a 6 DoF agent within a complex anatomical space
ESR 11: Control of multi-DOF catheters in an unknown environment
ESR 12: Distributed follow-the leader control for minimizing tissue forces during soft-robotic endoscopic locomotion through fragile tubular environments
ESR 13: Path planning and real-time re-planning
ESR 14: Automatic endoscope repositioning with respect to the surgical task
ESR 15: Optimal learning method for autonomous control and navigation

Projects are interconnected, in such a way the collaboration between researched is made possible.

Each project contributes to one or more work packages, where the effort toward a specific research objective is contextualized.

The thematic work packages are:

  • WP1 Actuation technology
  • WP2 Intra-operative sensing
  • WP3 4D modeling and reconstruction
  • WP4 Control

In addition, there are some horizontal WP that supports the work of all the projects, such as clinical specificationHardware and software integration, etc. that allows to identify clinically relevant challenges (in collaboration with clinical partners), and support development and test in realistic environments.

The targeted clinical settings are:

  • colonoscopy
  • ureteroscopy, and
  • endovascular catheterization.