Katharina successfully published her recent work on the use of digital twins to improve training effects in minimal invasive robotic surgery training. The digital twin methods are core to the FUTURO project. While initially intended to be used for space robotics applications, it turns out that the methods are widely applicable, even for the use in surgical robotics!

The digital twin and shared control parameterization engine framework. Credit: DLR

Follow the link to read the open access article in the journal on Frontiers in AI and Robotics.

Abstract: Minimally invasive robotic surgery copes with some disadvantages for the surgeon of minimally invasive surgery while preserving the advantages for the patient. Most commercially available robotic systems are telemanipulated with haptic input devices. The exploitation of the haptics channel, e.g., by means of Virtual Fixtures, would allow for an individualized enhancement of surgical performance with contextual assistance. However, it remains an open field of research as it is non-trivial to estimate the task context itself during a surgery. In contrast, surgical training allows to abstract away from a real operation and thus makes it possible to model the task accurately. The presented approach exploits this fact to parameterize Virtual Fixtures during surgical training, proposing a Shared Control Parametrization Engine that retrieves procedural context information from a Digital Twin. This approach accelerates a proficient use of the robotic system for novice surgeons by augmenting the surgeon’s performance through haptic assistance. With this our aim is to reduce the required skill level and cognitive load of a surgeon performing minimally invasive robotic surgery. A pilot study is performed on the DLR MiroSurge system to evaluate the presented approach. The participants are tasked with two benchmark scenarios of surgical training. The execution of the benchmark scenarios requires basic skills as pick, place and path following. The evaluation of the pilot study shows the promising trend that novel users profit from the haptic augmentation during training of certain tasks.