Image-Enabled Force Feedback for Robotic Teleoperation of a Flexible Surgical Tool

Q.J. Lindsey, N.A. Tenenholtz, D.I. Lee, and K.J. Kuchenbecker (USA)


Surgical robotics, Teleoperation, Force sensing, Haptic feedback


This paper presents a new image-enabled approach for estimating the contact force of a long thin teleoperated tool such as those used in robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery (MIS). Our technique captures the shape of the tool through a camera and then uses a mechanical beam model to compute the transverse contact force that must be creating the observed deformation. This force estimation method was validated through testing on a networked teleoperation system. To emulate the constraints of robot assisted MIS, the slave tool is a long, thin, polycarbonate rod that passes through a compliant pivot point. The user controls the motion of the tool tip through a master interface and feels a feedback force that is computed continually from images of the flexible tool. A human subject study was conducted to compare our new image-enabled algorithm with the standard force feedback approaches of no feedback and position-based feedback. For tasks in contact perception and force generation, subjects preferred image enabled force feedback over the other tested modalities.

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