Portfolio of Continuum Robotic Systems, Algorithms, and Software Technologies from the Robotics Lab of Professor Nabil Simaan


Professor Simaan and his lab have years of experiencing working collaboratively with commercial entities of various sizes. His research is focused on advanced robotics, mechanism design, control, and telemanipulation for medical applications. His projects have led the way in advancing several robotics technologies for medical applications including high dexterity, snake-like robots for surgery, steerable electrode arrays for cochlear implant surgery, robotics for single port access surgery, and natural orifice surgery.


Dexterous Robotic Wrist and Gripper for Extreme Precision Micro-surgical Maneuvers in Confined Spaces

  • This invention presents a robotic wrist and gripper that operate with three independent degrees of freedom (yaw, pitch and roll) for increased dexterity in minimally invasive surgical procedures. This is the smallest robotic wrist of its kind, and due to its size and unparalleled dexterity, this wrist enables complex surgical maneuvers for minimally invasive procedures in highly confined spaces. Examples of surgical areas benefiting from use of this wrist include natural orifice surgery, single port access surgery, and minimally invasive surgery. In particular, the proposed wrist allows for very high precision roll about the longitudinal axis of the gripper while overcoming problems of run-out motion typically encountered in existing wrists. Thus this wrist is particularly suitable for extreme precision maneuvers for micro-surgery in confined spaces.

Flexible and Steerable Robotic Surgery System for Quick and Safe Deep Access into Mammalian Anatomy

  • This technology uses a novel continuum robot that provides a steerable channel to enable safe surgical access to the anatomy of a patient. This robotic device has a wide range of clinical application and is a significant advance from the rigid tools currently used in minimally invasive surgical (MIS) procedures.

Compliant Insertion, Motion, and Force Control of Continuum Robots

  • Vanderbilt researchers have developed a framework for compliant insertion with hybrid motion and force control of continuum robots. This technology expands the capabilities of robotic surgery by providing continuum robots with the ability to autonomously discern, locate, and react to contact along their length and calculate forces at the tip, thus enabling quick and safe deployment of snake-like robots into deep anatomical passages or unknown environments

Contact Detection and Localization in Continuum Robots

  • This technology expands the capabilities of continuum robots with a system and method that enables them to detect instances of contact and to estimate the position of the contact. This framework allows the motion of the robot to be constrained so as to ensure the robot doesn’t damage itself, another robot arm, or surrounding environments. Applications for this technology include enhanced safe telemanipulation for multi-arm continuum robots in surgery, micro-assembly in confined spaces, and exploration in unknown environments.

Minimally Invasive Telerobotic Platform for Transurethral Exploration and Intervention

  • This technology, developed in Vanderbilt University’s Advanced Robotics and Mechanism Applications Laboratory, uses a minimally invasive telerobotic platform to perform transurethral procedures, such as transurethral bladder tumor resection and surveillance. This robotic device provides high levels of precision and dexterity that improve patient outcomes in transurethral procedures.

Continuum Robots with Equilibrium Modulation (CREM)

  • The A.R.M.A. Laboratory of Vanderbilt University has developed a novel continuum robot design enabling multi-scale motion at the macro and micro scale. The unique design allows miniaturization with minimal added cost thereby potentially giving rise to a new generation of surgical robots capable of both macro-motion for surgical intervention and micro-scale motion for cellular-level imaging or intervention. Micro-motion is achieved through a unique method for altering the equilibrium pose of the robot via material re-distribution throughout the length of the robot. This process ushers in a new class of surgical robotics termed continuum robots with equilibrium modulation (CREM).

Licensing Contact

Masood Machingal

Medical Devices