Existing robotic surgical platforms face limitations which include the balance between the scale of the robot and its capability in terms of range of motion, load capacity, and tool manipulation. These limitations can be overcome by taking advantage of fluid power as an enabling technology with its inherent power density and controllability. As a proof-of-concept for this approach, we are pursuing the design of a novel, dexterous robotic surgical tool targeted towards transgastric natural orifice surgery.
The design for this hydraulic surgical platform and the corresponding analysis are presented to demonstrate the theoretical system performance in terms of tool positioning and input requirements. The design involves a combination of a novel 3D valve, hydraulic artificial muscles, and multi-segmented flexible manipulator arms that fit in the lumen of an endoscope. A dynamic model of the system is created. Numerical simulations show that a hydraulic endoscopic surgical robot can produce the desired performance without using large external manipulators such as those employed by conventional surgical robots. They also provide insight into the component interactions and input response of the system. Future work will include manufacturing a prototype to validate the concept and the numerical models.