Control, Sensing, and Telemanipulation of Surgical Continuum Robots
New surgical paradigms such as natural orifice surgery and single port access surgery present technological challenges such as indirect routes of access, constrained workspace, sensory presence, higher degrees of freedom manipulators, force feedback and control. This research investigates design and control aspects of continuum robots as enabling technology that overcomes these new technological challenges while offering surgeons safe and intelligent surgical tools. Although research in the area of continuum robots has grown exponentially in the last ten years, several knowledge gaps remain un-addressed in the area of control and sensing of these devices such as unified methods for enhanced tracking performance, real-time constrained motion planning, direct force control, collision detection, contact estimation, shape and stiffness characterization of unknown environments. This doctoral dissertation investigate algorithms and methods for addressing these technological gaps and evaluates them on state-of-the-art robotic systems for laparoscopy, transurethral bladder tumor resection, and transnasal access to the throat developed at the Advanced Robotics and Mechanisms Application Laboratory at Vanderbilt University.