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
    Varghese RJ, Nguyen A, Burdet E, Yang GZ, Lo BPLet al., 2020,

    Nonlinearity Compensation in A Multi-DoF Shoulder Sensing Exosuit for Real-Time Teleoperation

    , 2020 3rd IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics, RoboSoft 2020, Pages: 668-675

    © 2020 IEEE. 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.

  • Journal article
    Cartucho J, Shapira D, Ashrafian H, Giannarou Set al., 2020,

    Multimodal mixed reality visualisation for intraoperative surgical guidance

    , International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery, Vol: 15, Pages: 819-826, ISSN: 1861-6410

    PurposeIn the last decade, there has been a great effort to bring mixed reality (MR) into the operating room to assist surgeons intraoperatively. However, progress towards this goal is still at an early stage. The aim of this paper is to propose a MR visualisation platform which projects multiple imaging modalities to assist intraoperative surgical guidance.MethodologyIn this work, a MR visualisation platform has been developed for the Microsoft HoloLens. The platform contains three visualisation components, namely a 3D organ model, volumetric data, and tissue morphology captured with intraoperative imaging modalities. Furthermore, a set of novel interactive functionalities have been designed including scrolling through volumetric data and adjustment of the virtual objects’ transparency. A pilot user study has been conducted to evaluate the usability of the proposed platform in the operating room. The participants were allowed to interact with the visualisation components and test the different functionalities. Each surgeon answered a questionnaire on the usability of the platform and provided their feedback and suggestions.ResultsThe analysis of the surgeons’ scores showed that the 3D model is the most popular MR visualisation component and neurosurgery is the most relevant speciality for this platform. The majority of the surgeons found the proposed visualisation platform intuitive and would use it in their operating rooms for intraoperative surgical guidance. Our platform has several promising potential clinical applications, including vascular neurosurgery.ConclusionThe presented pilot study verified the potential of the proposed visualisation platform and its usability in the operating room. Our future work will focus on enhancing the platform by incorporating the surgeons’ suggestions and conducting extensive evaluation on a large group of surgeons.

  • 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, 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, 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
    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

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