Development of a Tele-Surgical Training Robot and Simulator

Project News

We are working on a project titled “Development of a Tele-Surgical Training Robot and Simulator” in collaboration with Holy Family Hospital, Islamabad, Pakistan, funded by National ICT R&D Fund. Currently our project is first stage of development which is Analysis and Desing. The following diagram explains the basic concept of our research

Executive Summary

Surgical robots have gained popularity recently due to the introduction of robots that can perform minimal invasive procedures as well as surgeries from remote locations. The primary goal of this project is to develop a low cost tele-surgical robot and simulator for training of physicians. The basic requirement for such a project in Pakistan is to develop an environment where robots can be utilized in the field of medicine to perform minimally invasive surgeries. Such robots are usually not easy to use in the beginning as they require extensive hands-on training before being used on actual human patients. Therefore training systems and simulators are required that can provide the surgeons with enough expertise before any real life surgical operation.
This project aims to develop a training system consisting of a Surgical Training Robot and a Simulator. This training system will initially serve the means to develop an environment where surgeons will become experienced with the use of robots for surgeries. As a first step skills will be acquired in this field by surgeons through training in MIS and by ICT experts through designing and developing robots and software in this field. Accordingly human resource and support systems to perform minimal invasive surgery procedures from remote locations in Pakistan will be created.
The proposed robot will be a combination of hardware and software systems, utilizing skills and techniques in areas of robotics, image processing, computer game development and control systems. The simulator will be developed using open source technology used in game development, while the hardware of the training robot will be developed using parts that are easily available off the shelf. This will be an integration of different technologies in the area of robotics and software development. One of its advantages will be its user friendly application software and it’s easy to use hardware controls. Both these features shall help in trainees getting used to the system more easily and in quick time rather than handling difficult and hard to remember controls.The simulator will run in two modes; Offline mode and online mode. In offline mode it will only act as a simulator by displaying a virtual environment with 3-d images of organs and operational procedures. Online mode will allow the user to control an actual robot while the real imagery will be displayed from the robotic image acquisition device. Online mode could be used with the robot in close proximity or at a remote location.The main value proposition of this project is that by creating synergy between knowledge of expert surgeons, expert computer engineers and low cost hardware components created for video gaming industry extremely valuable training systems for minimal invasive surgery can be created in the short term. This expertise can be further nurtured to develop high quality minimal invasive surgery systems in Pakistan at low cost and deploy these systems throughout Pakistan thus creating an ecosystem that improves health care while generating significant R&D activities, foster innovation, create job opportunities and lead to wealth generation.
The key benefits of this project are given below:

  • A low cost simulator and training robot will allow the development of quality human resource and set the precedent for development of robotics in the health sector in Pakistan.
  • The robotic system being developed focuses on intelligent software technology for control of the robotic system rather than developing expensive hardware, making it cheap to develop at the same time not compromising on precision and accuracy.
  • Once these training robots are deployed at rural and urban training centers, surgeons can acquire robotic and laparoscopic surgical skills in their hometowns instead of moving to urban areas.
  • These surgeons are trained they can work in their own rural areas, solving the problem of unavailability skilled doctors in rural areas.