An articulated universal joint based flexible access robot for minimally invasive surgery
This paper introduces an articulated robotic device based on universal joints with embedded micro motors for minimally invasive surgery. The device features an articulated distal tip with seven independently controllable degrees-of-freedom (DoF), arranged as two universal joints (intersecting pitch and yaw) and three single DoF joints (yaw only); two Ø3mm internal channels, one for an on-board camera for visualization and the other for passing interventional instruments. The design allows the robot to explore the entire peritoneal cavity from a chosen single incision point. A trans-vaginal procedure using the device to locate the uterine horn, as a model of a human fallopian tube, and apply an endoscopic clip was carried out during a live porcine trial to demonstrate the potential for performing a Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES) tubal ligation procedure.