Research Papers

Disposable Fluidic Actuators for Miniature In-Vivo Surgical Robotics

[+] Author and Article Information
Abolfazl Pourghodrat

Department of Mechanical and Materials
University of Nebraska-Lincoln,
W342 Nebraska Hall,
Lincoln, NE 68588-0526
e-mail: a.pourghodrat@gmail.com

Carl A. Nelson

Department of Mechanical
and Materials Engineering,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln,
W342 Nebraska Hall,
Lincoln, NE 68588-0526
e-mail: cnelson5@unl.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received January 4, 2016; final manuscript received September 27, 2016; published online December 21, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Venketesh Dubey.

J. Med. Devices 11(1), 011003 (Dec 21, 2016) (8 pages) Paper No: MED-16-1003; doi: 10.1115/1.4035005 History: Received January 04, 2016; Revised September 27, 2016

Fusion of robotics and minimally invasive surgery (MIS) has created new opportunities to develop diagnostic and therapeutic tools. Surgical robotics is advancing from externally actuated systems to miniature in-vivo robotics. However, with miniaturization of electric-motor-driven surgical robots, there comes a trade-off between the size of the robot and its capability. Slow actuation, low load capacity, sterilization difficulties, leaking electricity and transferring produced heat to tissues, and high cost are among the key limitations of the use of electric motors in in-vivo applications. Fluid power in the form of hydraulics or pneumatics has a long history in driving many industrial devices and could be exploited to circumvent these limitations. High power density and good compatibility with the in-vivo environment are the key advantages of fluid power over electric motors when it comes to in-vivo applications. However, fabrication of hydraulic/pneumatic actuators within the desired size and pressure range required for in-vivo surgical robotic applications poses new challenges. Sealing these types of miniature actuators at operating pressures requires obtaining very fine surface finishes which is difficult and costly. The research described here presents design, fabrication, and testing of a hydraulic/pneumatic double-acting cylinder, a limited-motion vane motor, and a balloon-actuated laparoscopic grasper. These actuators are small, seal-less, easy to fabricate, disposable, and inexpensive, thus ideal for single-use in-vivo applications. To demonstrate the ability of these actuators to drive robotic joints, they were modified and integrated in a robotic arm. The design and testing of this surgical robotic arm are presented to validate the concept of fluid-power actuators for in-vivo applications.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Working principle of the linear actuator (left) and exploded view (right) [25]

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Fig. 2

Linear actuator prototype [25]

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Fig. 3

Benchtop test setup

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Fig. 4

Displacement versus pressure [25]

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Fig. 5

Working principle of the vane motor

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Fig. 6

Exploded view of the motor [25]

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Fig. 7

Experimental testing setup

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Fig. 8

Torque versus pressure for a constant flow rate of 4.25 L/min

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Fig. 9

Speed–torque characterization

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Fig. 10

Laparoscopic grasper prototype [25]

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Fig. 11

Free-body diagram of a balloon-based actuation

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Fig. 12

Robotic arm 3D model

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Fig. 13

Vane motor 3D model and exploded view

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Fig. 14

Fluid-powered robotic arm prototype



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