White Paper on Surgical Robotics

Together with Christos Bergeles from KCL, Ana Lucia Cruz Ruiz from ICL, Ferdinando Rodriguez y Baena from ICL and the UK-RAS Network, we have launched a White Paper on Surgical Robotics with a focus on the UK.

This White Paper summarises the latest achievements in the sector and offers a measured view about the future of surgical robotics in the UK.

It also identifies existing translational barriers and offers recommendations, which are hoped to influence government, industry, and healthcare providers in their future strategy.
You can download White Paper here:


IEEE ICRA 2021 Plenary “Medical Capsule Robots: A Fantastic Voyage” by STORM Lab Director Pietro Valdastri


Professor Pietro Valdastri, Chair in Robotics and Autonomous Systems at the University of Leeds and Director of STORM Lab UK is one of the featured speakers for the IEEE 2021 ICRA hosted in Xi’an China, giving a talk for the Plenary event.

The video for ‘Medical Capsule Robots: A Fantastic Voyage’ followed by a Q&A session can be found here: https://youtu.be/WXTBho_J86A

More from IEEE 2021 ICRA is available https://www.ieee-icra.org/index.aspx




Prof Pietro Valdastri delivers Keynote at the Hamlyn Symposium 2021

We are pleased to announce Professor Pietro Valdastri, Chair in Robotics and Autonomous Systems at the University of Leeds, is one of the featured speakers of the Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics 2021 (#HSMR21). Professor Valdastri gave a talk on ‘Medical Capsule Robots: A Fantastic Voyage’ followed by a Q&A session.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzJy4GVxh08 The keynote can be viewed here: 



At the beginning of the new millennia, wireless capsule endoscopy was introduced as a minimally invasive method of inspecting the digestive tract. The possibility of collecting images deep inside the human body just by swallowing a “pill” revolutionized the field of gastrointestinal endoscopy and sparked a brand-new field of research in robotics: medical capsule robots. These are self-contained robots that leverage extreme miniaturization to access and operate in environments that are out of reach for larger devices. In medicine, capsule robots can enter the human body through natural orifices or small incisions, and detect and cure life-threatening diseases in a non-invasive manner. This talk will provide a perspective on how this field has evolved in the last ten year. We will explore what was accomplished, what has failed, and what were the lessons learned. We will also discuss enabling technologies, intelligent control, possible levels of computer assistance, and highlight future challenges in this ongoing Fantastic Voyage.

Publication: Feasibility of Fiber Reinforcement Within Magnetically Actuated Soft Continuum Robots

In our quest towards highly dexterous magnetic tentacle robots to reach deeper inside the human body and perform surgery, we realised that extremely soft continuum magnetic manipulators experience relevant twisting when interacting with controlling external magnetic fields and field gradients. So, if we want to precisely control their shape and avoid twisting, we need to add mechanical reinforcements along their length.

This is explained in detail in our latest publication supported by the ERC Consolidator Grant NoLiMiTs available open access at https://lnkd.in/dycDwCY

Thackray Medical Museum Exhibits simplified Robotic Colonoscopy Platform

Thanks to the effort of Andrew Jackson from Mech Eng at Uni Leeds, a simplified version of our robotic colonoscopy platform is now on display at the Thackray Medical Museum. The exhibit allows visitors to control a robot arm to steer a magnetic capsule in order to detect polyps inside a simulated colon.

The Thackray Medical Museum houses a collection of over 47,000 objects from medical history which date from Roman times to the present day, along with 15,000 trade catalogues and 9,000 books on medicine and healthcare.

Autonomy in SurgicalRobotics

Starting from the autonomotive field, the topic of autonomy in robotics has been largely debated by the research community. In particular, the last 20 years have seen the rise of autonomous surgical robots as a result of an increasing interest by the community and the availability of robotic research platform.

In this paper, starting from the definition of levels of autonomy reported in [1], a thorough analysis of the current state of the art is carried out. Our aim is to further specify the boundaries for each level of autonomy, categorising the currently available state-of-the-art approaches giving examples of both commercially available systems and research prototypes. With this analysis we define what are the already available technologies in surgical robotics, what are the next ones to be implemented in future systems and which ones are still far from being commercialised. Concluding, the paper deals with the ethical and regulatory issues which may arise adopting autonomous technologies that tend to swap the responsibility of an intervention from the human operator to a machine.

[1] Yang, G. Z., Cambias, J., Cleary, K., Daimler, E., Drake, J., Dupont, P. E., Hata, N., Kazanzides, P., Martel, S., Patel, R. V., Santos, V. J., & Taylor, R. H. (2017). Medical robotics-Regulatory, ethical, and legal considerations for increasing levels of autonomy. Science Robotics, 2(4), [eaam8638]. 


Closed-loop Control Approach for Soft Continuum Manipulators under Tip Follower Actuation in IJRR

Soft continuum manipulators, inspired by nature, facilitate motion within complex environments where traditional rigid robots may be ineffective. This has driven demand for new control schemes designed to precisely control these highly flexible manipulators, whose kinematics may be sensitive to external loads, such as gravity. In this paper, published in the International Journal of Robotics Research (IJRR), we propose coupling Cosserat rod-based modelling with integrated sensing and efficient numerical determination of the Jacobian matrix at each time step to deliver practically viable, real-time closed-loop control for our waterjet-actuated soft continuum manipulator (the HydroJet). Using this control approach, we demonstrate a reduction orientation error and increased system stability, even under the influence of gravity. The stable closed-loop path following, as demonstrated, has the potential to enable semi and fully autonomous manipulation tasks in the next generation of soft continuum robots actuated via a follower wrench and experiencing external loading.

Guidelines for Robotic Flexible Endoscopy at the Time of COVID-19

In this paper, we review the state of flexible gastrointestinal endoscopy during COVID-19 and the significant changes that it has undergone over the last few months. One of the most challenging aspects has been related to potential generation of aerosols during endoscopy procedures and how this presents an increased risk to healthcare workers. This resulted in a lengthy pause in most diagnostic, non-urgent care procedures during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and has major long-term implications such as a large increase in excess deaths. For this reason, we have decided to probe how robotics can help guide the field to pre-pandemic capacity and deal with the back log that has resulted from the pause. Robotic platforms have the capability of creating separation (physical distancing) between patients and healthcare workers as well as minimizing the number of people in the room during the process. This would vastly improve the safety of the procedures. We also set the scene for the urgent need of a study to quantify aerosol generation during endoscopy procedures. The development and adoption of a robotic flexible endoscopy platform that is pandemic safe could revolutionize the field.