Research in surgical robotics has an established track record at Imperial College, and a number of research and commercial surgical robot platforms have been developed over the years. The Hamlyn Centre is a champion for technological innovation and clinical adoption of robotic, minimally invasive surgery. We work in partnership with major industrial leaders in medical devices and surgical robots, as well as developing our own platforms such as the i-Snake® and Micro-IGES platforms. The Da Vinci surgical robot is used extensively for endoscopic radical prostatectomy, hiatal hernia surgery, and low pelvic and rectal surgery, and in 2003, St Mary’s Hospital carried out its first Totally Endoscopic Robotic Coronary Artery Bypass (TECAB).

The major focus of the Hamlyn Centre is to develop robotic technologies that will transform conventional minimally invasive surgery, explore new ways of empowering robots with human intelligence, and develop[ing miniature 'microbots' with integrated sensing and imaging for targeted therapy and treatment. We work closely with both industrial and academic partners in open platforms such as the DVRK, RAVEN and KUKA. The Centre also has the important mission of driving down costs associated with robotic surgery in order to make the technology more accessible, portable, and affordable. This will allow it to be fully integrated with normal surgical workflows so as to benefit a much wider patient population.

The Hamlyn Centre currently chairs the UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network. The mission of the Network is to to provide academic leadership in Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS), expand collaboration with industry and integrate and coordinate activities across the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded RAS capital facilities and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs).


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  • Journal article
    Keshavarz M, Wales DJ, Seichepine F, Abdelaziz MEMK, Kassanos P, Li Q, Temelkuran B, Shen H, Yang G-Zet al., 2020,

    Induced neural stem cell differentiation on a drawn fiber scaffold-toward peripheral nerve regeneration

    , Biomedical Materials, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1748-6041

    To achieve regeneration of long sections of damaged nerves, restoration methods such as direct suturing or autologous grafting can be inefficient. Solutions involving biohybrid implants, where neural stem cells are grown in vitro on an active support before implantation, have attracted attention. Using such an approach, combined with recent advancements in microfabrication technology, the chemical and physical environment of cells can be tailored in order to control their behaviors. Herein, a neural stem cell polycarbonate fiber scaffold, fabricated by 3D printing and thermal drawing, is presented. The combined effect of surface microstructure and chemical functionalization using poly-ʟ-ornithine (PLO) and double-walled carbon nanotubes (DWCNTs) on the biocompatibility of the scaffold, induced differentiation of the neural stem cells (NSCs) and channeling of the neural cells was investigated. Upon treatment of the fiber scaffold with a suspension of DWCNTs in PLO (0.039 gL-1) and without recombinants a high degree of differentiation of NSCs into neuronal cells was confirmed by using nestin, galactocerebroside (GalC) and doublecortin (Dcx) immunoassays. These findings illuminate the potential use of this biohybrid approach for the realization of future nerve regenerative implants.

  • Journal article
    Zhang D, Wu Z, Chen J, Gao A, Chen X, Li P, Wang Z, Yang G, Lo B, Yang G-Zet al., 2020,

    Automatic microsurgical skill assessment based on cross-domain transfer learning

    , IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Vol: 5, Pages: 4148-4155, ISSN: 2377-3766

    The assessment of microsurgical skills for Robot-Assisted Microsurgery (RAMS) still relies primarily on subjective observations and expert opinions. A general and automated evaluation method is desirable. Deep neural networks can be used for skill assessment through raw kinematic data, which has the advantages of being objective and efficient. However, one of the major issues of deep learning for the analysis of surgical skills is that it requires a large database to train the desired model, and the training process can be time-consuming. This letter presents a transfer learning scheme for training a model with limited RAMS datasets for microsurgical skill assessment. An in-house Microsurgical Robot Research Platform Database (MRRPD) is built with data collected from a microsurgical robot research platform (MRRP). It is used to verify the proposed cross-domain transfer learning for RAMS skill level assessment. The model is fine-tuned after training with the data obtained from the MRRP. Moreover, microsurgical tool tracking is developed to provide visual feedback while task-specific metrics and the other general evaluation metrics are provided to the operator as a reference. The method proposed has shown to offer the potential to guide the operator to achieve a higher level of skills for microsurgical operation.

  • Journal article
    Kassanos P, Berthelot M, Kim JA, Rosa BMG, Seichepine F, Anastasova S, Sodergren MH, Leff DR, Lo B, Darzi A, Yang G-Zet al., 2020,

    Smart sensing for surgery from tethered devices to wearables and implantables

    , IEEE Systems Man and Cybernetics Magazine, Vol: 6, Pages: 39-48, ISSN: 2333-942X

    Recent developments in wearable electronics have fueled research into new materials, sensors, and microelectronic technologies for the realization of devices that have increased functionality and performance. This is further enhanced by advances in fabr ication methods and printing techniques, stimulating research on implantables and the advancement of existing medical devices. This article provides an overview of new designs, embodiments, fabrication methods, instrumentation, and informatics as well as the challenges in developing and deploying such devices and clinical applications that can benefit from them. The need for and use of these technologies across the perioperative surgical-care pathway are highlighted, along with a vision for the future and how these tools can be adopted by potential end users and health-care systems.

  • Journal article
    Lee H-T, Seichepine F, Yang G-Z, 2020,

    Microtentacle Actuators Based on Shape Memory Alloy Smart Soft Composite

    , ADVANCED FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS, Vol: 30, ISSN: 1616-301X
  • Conference paper
    Varghese RJ, Nguyen A, Burdet E, Yang G-Z, Lo BPLet al., 2020,

    Nonlinearity compensation in a multi-DoF shoulder sensing exosuit for real-time teleoperation

    , 3rd IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), Publisher: IEEE, Pages: 668-675

    The compliant nature of soft wearable robots makes them ideal for complex multiple degrees of freedom (DoF) joints, but also introduce additional structural nonlinearities. Intuitive control of these wearable robots requires robust sensing to overcome the inherent nonlinearities. This paper presents a joint kinematics estimator for a bio-inspired multi- DoF shoulder exosuit capable of compensating the encountered nonlinearities. To overcome the nonlinearities and hysteresis inherent to the soft and compliant nature of the suit, we developed a deep learning-based method to map the sensor data to the joint space. The experimental results show that the new learning-based framework outperforms recent state-of-the-art methods by a large margin while achieving 12ms inference time using only a GPU-based edge-computing device. The effectiveness of our combined exosuit and learning framework is demonstrated through real-time teleoperation with a simulated NAO humanoid robot.

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