A Modular Open Source Architecture for Rapid Prototyping of Medical Capsule Robots
Over the last decade, researchers have started exploring the design space of MCR: devices that can operate autonomously within the human body and can diagnose, prevent, monitor, and cure diseases. MCR are miniature multifunctional devices whose applications are spanning from abdominal surgery to GI endoscopy. MCR are severely resource constrained devices in size and consequently, in available power and computational capacity. Although the research in the area of MCR is an active topic and has grown exponentially, available devices provide only diagnostic functionalities. In fact, the design process of an MCR is expensive and time consuming. Research groups that are active in this field are usually forced to follow a custom approach to develop MCR from the ground up. The current state of the art lacks a platform to systematize the design of MCR which could open this research field to a wider community and, at the same time, create better designs through advanced tool support. This dissertation focuses on a modular open source architecture to enable the rapid prototyping of MCR. The advantages of the proposed architecture include module reusability and a reconfigurable software library. Users will be able to build a capsule with functions of their own design by choosing components available from a hardware/software library or by introducing their own. This will prevent the need to design custom modules and face some of the technical challenges typical for MCR development. This doctoral dissertation describes the modular architecture in details and presents some applications where it was successfully adopted for the design of MCR. Some of these include an MCR to restore wireless tissue palpation in MIS, a drug delivery MCR, a module for magnetic localization, a wireless capsule for the measurement of resistant properties in the GI tract, and an embedded cane for gait patterns recognition.