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
    Tsai Y-Y, Xiao B, Johns E, Yang G-Zet al., 2020,

    Constrained-Space Optimization and Reinforcement Learning for Complex Tasks

    , IEEE ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION LETTERS, Vol: 5, Pages: 683-690, ISSN: 2377-3766
  • Journal article
    Zhang D, Liu J, Gao A, Yang G-Zet al., 2020,

    An Ergonomic Shared Workspace Analysis Framework for the Optimal Placement of a Compact Master Control Console

    , IEEE ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION LETTERS, Vol: 5, Pages: 2995-3002, ISSN: 2377-3766
  • Journal article
    Varghese RJ, Lo BPL, Yang G-Z, 2020,

    Design and prototyping of a bio-inspired kinematic sensing suit for the shoulder joint: precursor to a multi-DoF shoulder exosuit

    , IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Vol: 5, Pages: 540-547, ISSN: 2377-3766

    Soft wearable robots represent a promising new design paradigm for rehabilitation and active assistance applications. Their compliant nature makes them ideal for complex joints, but intuitive control of these robots require robust and compliant sensing mechanisms. In this work, we introduce the sensing framework for a multiple degrees-of-freedom shoulder exosuit capable of sensing the kinematics of the joint. The proposed sensing system is inspired by the body's embodied kinematic sensing, and the organisation of muscles and muscle synergies responsible for shoulder movements. A motion-capture-based evaluation study of the developed framework confirmed conformance with the behaviour of the muscles that inspired its routing. This validation of the tendon-routing hypothesis allows for it to be extended to the actuation framework of the exosuit in the future. The sensor-to-joint-space mapping is based on multivariate multiple regression and derived using an Artificial Neural Network. Evaluation of the derived mapping achieved root mean square error of ≈5.43° and ≃3.65° for the azimuth and elevation joint angles measured over 29,500 frames (4+ minutes) of motion-capture data.

  • Journal article
    Zhao M, Oude Vrielink TJC, Kogkas A, Runciman M, Elson D, Mylonas Get al., 2020,

    LaryngoTORS: a novel cable-driven parallel robotic system for transoral laser phonosurgery

    , IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Vol: 5, Pages: 1516-1523, ISSN: 2377-3766

    Transoral laser phonosurgery is a commonly used surgical procedure in which a laser beam is used to perform incision, ablation or photocoagulation of laryngeal tissues. Two techniques are commonly practiced: free beam and fiber delivery. For free beam delivery, a laser scanner is integrated into a surgical microscope to provide an accurate laser scanning pattern. This approach can only be used under direct line of sight, which may cause increased postoperative pain to the patient and injury, is uncomfortable for the surgeon during prolonged operations, the manipulability is poor and extensive training is required. In contrast, in the fiber delivery technique, a flexible fiber is used to transmit the laser beam and therefore does not require direct line of sight. However, this can only achieve manual level accuracy, repeatability and velocity, and does not allow for pattern scanning. Robotic systems have been developed to overcome the limitations of both techniques. However, these systems offer limited workspace and degrees-of-freedom (DoF), limiting their clinical applicability. This work presents the LaryngoTORS, a robotic system that aims at overcoming the limitations of the two techniques, by using a cable-driven parallel mechanism (CDPM) attached at the end of a curved laryngeal blade for controlling the end tip of the laser fiber. The system allows autonomous generation of scanning patterns or user driven freepath scanning. Path scan validation demonstrated errors as low as 0.054±0.028 mm and high repeatability of 0.027±0.020 mm (6×2 mm arc line). Ex vivo tests on chicken tissue have been carried out. The results show the ability of the system to overcome limitations of current methods with high accuracy and repeatability using the superior fiber delivery approach.

  • Journal article
    Kiziroglou M, Temelkuran B, Yeatman E, Yang GZet al., 2020,

    Micro motion amplification – A Review

    , IEEE Access, Vol: 8, Pages: 64037-34055, ISSN: 2169-3536

    Many motion-active materials have recently emerged, with new methods of integration into actuator components and systems-on-chip. Along with established microprocessors, interconnectivity capabilities and emerging powering methods, they offer a unique opportunity for the development of interactive millimeter and micrometer scale systems with combined sensing and actuating capabilities. The amplification of nanoscale material motion to a functional range is a key requirement for motion interaction and practical applications, including medical micro-robotics, micro-vehicles and micro-motion energy harvesting. Motion amplification concepts include various types of leverage, flextensional mechanisms, unimorphs, micro-walking /micro-motor systems, and structural resonance. A review of the research state-of-art and product availability shows that the available mechanisms offer a motion gain in the range of 10. The limiting factor is the aspect ratio of the moving structure that is achievable in the microscale. Flexures offer high gains because they allow the application of input displacement in the close vicinity of an effective pivotal point. They also involve simple and monolithic fabrication methods allowing combination of multiple amplification stages. Currently, commercially available motion amplifiers can provide strokes as high as 2% of their size. The combination of high-force piezoelectric stacks or unimorph beams with compliant structure optimization methods is expected to make available a new class of high-performance motion translators for microsystems.

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