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Thursday, 27 01 2011
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Department of Robotic Systems

Welcome to the IROS 2011

Workshop on Methods for Safer Surgical Robotics Procedures

Abstract / List of Topics / List of Presentations / Motivation and Objectives / Intended Audience / Organizers & Contact / Photos


News: Presentation Slides and some photos are available




This full day workshop will present methods and future directions to increase safety and quality in prospective surgical robotics procedures. It is intended to cover current research on Simulation, Modelling, Haptics, Force Feedback, Human Robot Interaction, Operating Room Sensing and Reasoning.

To the current state, surgical robotics systems rely exclusively on surgeons' decisions on safety critical aspects, whereas engineering support such as telepresence, planning, real time sensing, etc. are only used to carry out the intervention without any decision support function. We believe that those technologies can provide support also for higher level cognitive tasks, bringing additional benefits to surgery execution, as demonstrated e.g. in industrial applications. Introducing task sharing and partly autonomous task execution to robotic surgery, new procedures could exceed the manual capabilities of the surgeon. However, this would impose very strict safety conditions since the robotic tool naturally is in close contact with the patient. Furthermore, a common ground for communication and task evaluation must be established between the engineering and the surgical communities at large, so that possible misunderstanding between the two communities can be prevented.

The workshop will support an exchange of experiences in designing complex surgical procedures with a focus on methods to reduce the complexity seen by the surgical staff and to integrate various safety-relevant features. In addition to technically oriented talks, the workshop will feature talks from a surgical perspective by renowned surgeons with robotics expertise.

List of Topics

  • Sensing Use e.g. force/torque sensors to detect faulty collisions and react on them. Thus the impact of the tools can be minimized (e.g.limiting excessive forces on the tip of a cutting knife or of grippers retracting tissue)
  • Modelling A (constantly updated) model of the robot surroundings can help to detect dangerous situations. E.g., the patient can be tracked to react on repositioning, breathing etc.
  • User interface design Transparence of the robot behaviour is a key feature for good usability and therefore safer operation: If the surgical staff can foresee and understand the robot motions, they can adapt themselves to these. Transparence can be achived through robot design and control or through user interface design.
  • Training Training increases safety and quality of the robot/operator team. Training for surgical procedures can be performed in simulation, withphantoms, with animals, or directly with the patient. Naturally, the quality of the procedure directly affects the safety of the patient.
  • Safer human robot interaction Safer operation by the surgical staff through concepts that handle constrained and unconstrained collisions with blunt, sharp, or active (laser, cautery devices, radiation) parts. 

List of Presentations


  • Dr. Rainer Konietschke
    Robotics and Mechatronics Center, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany
    Welcome and Introduction

    Presentation Slides

Simulation and Modelling

  • Stefan Jörg
    Robotics and Mechatronics Center, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany
    Robotic System Simulation and Modelling

    Presentation Slides

Haptics, Force Feedback and Human Robot Interaction

Operating Room Sensing and Reasoning



Motivation and Objectives

When dealing with surgical robotics, in general an invasive surgical intervention needs to be performed with robotic assistance to cure the patient. Here, Asimovs first law "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm'' is very difficult to fulfill for the surgical robot: In order to reach e.g. a tumor inside the patient, the robot needs to significantly injure the patient. How can the robot know that in this certain case injury is better than remaining inactive?

This question is very relevant in advanced telesurgery systems, since they provide a growing number of assistive functions. Among these are e.g. compensation for physiological motions, automatic performance of certain steps like suturing, accurate overlay of interior views of the organs, VR preview during the surgery, or feedback of haptic and tactile information to the surgeon.

Concepts that head towards these intelligent robotic assistance functions in surgical procedures are currently in the focus of many research groups. Those concepts with potential to increase patient safety will be presented during this workshop, grouped as follows:

  • Patient-specific simulation of the surgery
  • Sensing and modelling in the operating room
  • User interface
  • Training and simulation
  • Force feedback and human-robot interaction

All of the aforementioned topics will be presented in separate sessions of the workshop. The integrating goal of the workshop is to bring together people and methods that will increase patient safety in tasks with close human-robot cooperation.

Indended Audience

Our goal is to promote concepts for safer medical robotics procedures as well as to encourage transfer of corresponding concepts from industrial robots available already today into the robotic surgery community. We envision to bring together researchers from various disciplines in robotics as well as surgeons to learn about the current state-of-the-art in designing safe surgical robotics procedures. The workshop will also be of high interest for people that develop human-robot cooperative applications as well as applications dealing with fragile or highly deformable workpieces in other robotic domains.

Organizers & Contact

Rainer Konietschke

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Robotics and Mechatronics Center
P.O.Box 1116
D-82230 Wessling / Germany

Stefan Jörg

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Robotics and Mechatronics Center
P.O.Box 1116
D-82230 Wessling / Germany

Paolo Fiorini

University of Verona
Department of Computer Science
Strada le Grazie 15
I-37134 Verona / Italy





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