Haptics for tele-surgery

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Surgeons must currently compromise on their sense of touch whilst using tele-surgical devices. Without this feedback information, they are forced to rely heavily on visual information to safely interact with body tissues. This project aims to address these issues by investigating the sense of touch and the addition of touch feedback to this application.

The project falls into two parts; tactile sensing and feedback (touch information felt on the skin) and kinaesthetic sensing and feedback (touch information felt in the muscles and bones). These elements are being combined to create a tactile and kinaesthetically enabled tele-operated robot system that may be used for haptic lump detection.

Tactile feedback

A vast range of extremely complex mechanical tactile information can be perceived by humans, such as texture, shape, stiffness and stickiness. This section of the project focuses on how to use this information for lump detection interactions, such as during tumour localisation.

Following consideration of the tactile information used by humans during lump detection, a novel deformation-based tactile feedback system is being developed. A biologically-inspired sensor is used to detect tactile information like the human finger and a mechanical tactile display outputs this information on to the surgeon's fingertip.

Tactile feedback

This system allows further investigation in to the necessary and optimal tactile feedback information for efficient tele-palpation.

Kinaesthetic feedback

Kinaesthetic haptics uses robotic devices that the user manipulates like a mouse or joystick. These devices contain actuators and therefore are able to exert forces on the user. This gives a sensation of feeling virtual objects or providing sensations arising from springs or viscous fluids.

Kinaesthetic feedback

In our system, the motion of the user-controlled haptic device commands the motion of a force sensing, robotic arm. This system permits a user to manipulate and feel the force response of remote objects.

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Theme Leader

Team Members

  • Prof. Chris Melhuish
  • Prof. Tony Pipe
  • Dr Adam Spiers
  • Dr David Drury
  • Calum Roke (PhD)

Contact Details

Professor Sanja Dogramadzi
Bristol Robotics Laboratory,
University of the West of England,
Coldharbour Lane, 
Bristol, BS16 1QY
Telephone: +44 (0)117 32 81301
E-mail: Prof. Sanja Dogramadzi

Project Partners

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Bristol Urological Institute

Page last updated 14 September 2017