Bio-Inspired RObots for MEDicine-Laboratory (BIROMED-Lab)
The BIROMED-Lab develops bio-inspired robotic and mechatronic systems for medical applications. The main research focus of the BIROMED-Lab is minimal invasive semi-autonomous robotic surgery for laser ablation of hard tissue (bone). Our portfolio includes knowledge in mechatronics, mechanical design, micro machining, robotics, control, and real-time data processing. Due to our expertise, we maintain also strong collaborations in the fields of robot-assisted gait and arm rehabilitation.
In robotic surgery, we are developing an entire surgical platform that will consist of several highly dedicated subsystems like a positioning and stabilization mechanism at the tip of the robotic endoscope, a flexible robotic endoscope for single port surgery, new technologies in force sensing for endoscopes, an intuitive telemanipulation interface, a highly integrated optics and spray system for endoscopic laser surgery. To achieve repeatable high precision cuts even in minimally invasive procedures, our patented endoscope-tip attaches to the target tissue and decouples mechanically from the endoscope. Thus, if the patient moves or if the surgeon touches the surgery robot, disturbances will not be transferred to the endoscope tip. The cuts will be performed in a semi-autonomous procedure, where the robotic endoscope tip moves the laser along pre-planned trajectories while the surgeon surveys the cutting process and has the possibility to intervene at any time. To cover a large workspace inside the body, the endoscope tip can attach and detach single legs to “walk” along the target tissue to reach a new area of operation. In collaboration with surgeons, we investigate novel intuitive teleoperation interfaces that allow us to establish a new minimally invasive approach for laserosteotomy. A first application for the laser osteotome will be unikondylar knee arthroplasty. Future approaches for other orthopedic applications as well as spine surgery, and neurosurgical interventions are planned.
The robotic endoscope for laser ablation of hard tissue will be hyper-redundant. This means, the endoscope tip can reach a desired position and orientation (i.e. pose) inside a patient by a multitude of shapes. Therefore, hyper redundancy allows the endoscope to avoid delicate structures inside the patient and provides flexibility even in complex surgical interventions, e.g. in cranio- and maxillofacial intervention. Shape sensing of the endoscope determines the precise location of all endoscope segments inside the patient. A precise knowledge of the endoscope shape is necessary to control the motion of the endoscope in a closed-loop fashion. While closed-loop control is the gold standard in robotics, endoscopic surgery mainly relies on visual feedback through a camera in the endoscope tip. Sensors for shape measurement and closed-loop are still in its infancy in robotic endoscopy.
In addition to the surgical instruments themselves, the BIROMED-Lab develops a generic prototyping platform. This platform will be a 3D additive- and subtractive manufacturing device, and allows tele-operated prototype assembly under the microscope.
The BIROMED-Lab forms part of two different groups of DBE: the flagship project MIRACLE, generously funded by Werner Siemens Stiftung, and the Focal Area Laser and Robotics. BIROMED was founded in May 2016 by Georg Rauter. Besides a good internal embedding of the BIROMED-Lab at the DBE and University of Basel, also collaborations with other internationally renowned institutions ( Sensory-Motor Systems Lab, Paralab-Uni Zürich , Technical University of Innsbruck, MCI Innsbruck ) and companies are well established ( Lutz Medical Engineering mit FLOAT roboter, AOT Carlo roboter ) and now has six PhD-students. Medical Advisors are Niklaus F. Friederich and Raphael Guzman, Hans-Helge Seifert, Michael Hirschmann and Svetozar Subotic.