Easily Maneuverable Robotic Control System for a Magnetically Actuated Flexible Endoscope


Vanderbilt researchers have developed a system that allows for active control of the motion of a magnetically actuated flexible endoscope. The system decreases pain during endoscopic procedures and increases clinician control over the endoscope.

Addressed Need

Current endoscopic techniques are used to see within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of a patient. However, the current endoscopes are unable to get a complete view of the GI tract due to lack of physician control over the direction of the endoscope. This new system would give clinicians more control over the endoscope and give a more extensive view of the tract. In addition, this system decreases pain during colonoscopy procedures as it allows the camera to be pulled from the front rather than pushed from the back. Lastly, the user interface within the system reduces the learning curve and makes the operations more intuitive.

Unique Features

  • Localization method uses both a permanent and alternating magnetic field generated
  • Enabled closed-loop control of an endoscope
  • Tethered capsule designed as a revolute joint
  • Would allow colonoscopy to be performed without sedation

Technology Description

The system is made of a robotic arm, a permanent magnet attached to the arm, and a flexible endoscope with an embedded permanent magnet and proprioceptive sensors. The sensors collect data of the position and orientation of the capsule which is used in a feedback control loop to maneuver the endoscope.

Technology Development Status

System platform has been built and validated through simulation testing. In vivo trials and further evaluations of the system are ongoing.

Intellectual Property Status

US Patent US20190104994A1 pending

Publication: P.R. Slawinski, A. Taddese, K. Musto, K. Obstein, P. Valdastri, “Autonomous Retroflexion of a Magnetic Flexible Endoscope”, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2017, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 1352-1359. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5345942/pdf/nihms851669.pdf )

Publication: A. Taddese, P. Slawinski, K. L. Obstein, P. Valdastri, “Closed Loop Control of a Tethered Magnetic Capsule Endoscope”, Robotic Science and Systems 2016, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5345944/pdf/nihms851663.pdf)

Video: “First-ever Autonomously Controlled ‘Capsule Robot’ Explores Colon.” Digestive Disease Week 2017. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4BHuCBnbRE)

Figure 1: a) The tip of the magnetically actuated endoscope (white) maintains all functionality of a traditional endoscope b) while having a more compliant body. This gives the clinician more control over the movement of the endoscope.






Licensing Contact

Masood Machingal

Medical Devices