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On June 5th, 2007 the New York Times Science section published a graphic highlighting novel directions in medical robotics. The snake-like robots for throat surgery (developed at ARMA in collaboration with JHU) were featured among other works from Carnegie Mellon and Johns Hopkins University.


Professors Nabil Simaan (PI) and Professor Spiros Manolidis M.D. (Co-PI) received a 3-year NSF grant titled  “Study of Robot-Assisted Cochlear Implant Insertion and Active-Bending Electrode Arrays”. This $330,000 grant will support research on novel robotic-assisted surgical approaches to cochlear implant surgery. The project will focus on surgical assistance using steerable electrode arrays that were developed at ARMA laboratory. The project will study control strategies and path planning for these under-actuated electrodes, design and construction of robotic electrode insertion devices, and evaluation of intracochlear trauma during electrode insertion. The eventual goal of this project is a smart table-top tele-robotic system that will be used to evaluate the different electrode insertion strategies on the reduction of intracochlear trauma. .

This inter-disciplinary project is an ongoing collaboration between ARMA laboratory and Dr. Spiros Manolidis (an Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery and the Director of Otology & Skull Base Surgery at Columbia University). Dr. Manolidis is a Co-PI responsible for overseeing the clinical aspects of this project. In addition, Dr. John T. Roland of the department of Otolaryngology and Neurosurgery at New York University School of Medicine is serving as an additional clinical consultant for this project.

The preliminary work for this project was carried out at ARMA with the participation of Ph.D. students Jian Zhang and Kai Xu.

On December 20-23rd, 2005, Kai Xu visited the ERC-CISST at Johns Hopkins University where he conducted integration experiments together with Ankur Kapoor and Professor R. Taylor. Integration of our first prototype of the snake-like robot with a detachable parallel tip and a gripper together with a 6 DoF LARS robot and a DaVinci master console was successful in demonstrating basic suturing capabilities. Below you can see some updated pictures of the system. A major part of the integration was carried by Ankur Kapoor who programmed the DaVinci master console.

7 DOF LARS robot with the 2-stage snake robot and a micro-surgical gripper

Micro-surgical gripper and a parallel micro-robot  installed on the snake-robot

Kai Xu at master console (Also check CISST-web page for possible pictures/movies and Ankur Kapoor web page)

Jian Zhang, (Ph.D. student at ARMA – Advanced Robotics and Mechanisms Applications laboratory) won the Best Student Paper award for Clinical Applications category in MICCAI2006. MICCAI (Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention) is the premier international medical robotics conference held annually.

578 papers were submitted to MICCAI out of which only 39 were accepted for a full length presentation and 139 were accepted for poster presentation. Jian’s paper was one of the 39 papers accepted for full length presentation. About 80 international papers participated in the best student paper competitions based on reviewer’s nominations and 5 papers were given awards in 5 categories including the clinical applications category that Jian won.

The paper is titled "A Pilot Study of Robot-Assisted Cochlear Implant Surgery Using Steerable Electrode Arrays" by Jian Zhang, Kai Xu, Dr. Nabil Simaan and Dr. Spiros Manolidis is an ongoing collaboration between ARMA and the medical school (Dr. Spiros Manolidis is at the department of Otolaryngology- Head & Neck Surgery at Columbia University).

The Advanced Robotics and Mechanism Applications Laboratory joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt University in the Fall of 2010. The laboratory is now located in Olin Hall, fourth floor, room 407. We have got windows! :-)


Second integration experiments of the System for Minimally Insvasive Surgery of the upper Airways

Kai Xu1, Wei Wei1, Ankur Kapoor2, Peter Kazanzides2, Nabil Simaan1, Russell Taylor2, Paul Flint3

1 ARMA - Columbia University
2 CISST-ERC Johns Hopkins University
3 Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

In June 2006 we conducted the second integration experiments using a new 5 DoF Modular Snake Like-Device for throat surgery. This work is being done in collaboration with Johns Hopkins ERC-CISST and Johns Hopkins Otlaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Click on the picture below to watch the most recent movie of this snake-like device. It may take few moments to download, but it is worth it :-) . The experiments were conducted by Kai Xu and Wei Wei from ARMA and Ankr Kapoor from ERC-CISST.