Robotic Surgery Trainer - An Experimental and Development Platform

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Robotic Surgery is getting widely spread and applied to more and more clinical cases due to its obvious advantages compared to open surgery, for both the patients and surgeons. However, Robotic Surgery requires a different set of skills and learning compared to open and also laparoscopic surgery. Tele-operation for a robotic system with hand controllers, the delay in the hand commands to be translated into robotic movements, slowness of the robotic movements, remote 2D or 3D vision of the actual operation, and lack of haptic feedback are some of the challenges that Robotic Surgery poses. Surgeons need to go through an intensive training for Robotic Surgery, and the learning and skill development continues throughout their early professional years. Despite the importance of training for Robotic Surgery, there are not yet dedicated, low-cost, and widespread training platforms; rather, surgeons mostly train with the same Robotic Surgery system they use in surgery; hence institutions need to invest on a separate surgical setup for training purposes. This is expensive for the institutions, it provides very limited access to the surgeons for training, and very limited, if any, access to researchers for experimentation. To address these, we have developed in our laboratory a low-cost and experimental Robotic Surgery Trainer ( This setup replicates the challenges that a Robotic Surgery system poses and further provides widespread access through internet connected control of the actual physical system. The Robotic Surgery Trainer is composed of a laparoscopy training box, two UR3 robot arms, two ATI force/torque sensors, two standard forceps used in laparoscopy, servo motors to control the jaws of the forceps, an Arduino processors to control the servos, two Touch haptic devices, a laptop to control the overall system, two Sony cameras and an Oculus Gaming Headset for 3D vision, and two separate software, one for on-site haptic control of the Robotic Surgery Trainer and another for off-site control through internet connection. These are all equipment that an average engineering laboratory can afford, in contrast to the high price of Robotic Surgery systems that are usually purchased on an institutional level. Our Robotic Surgery Trainer is still under development, but currently enables tele-operation of two forceps to perform any standard training game in the laparoscopy training box, 3D vision of the operation inside the box (as well as 2D vision on a monitor, as many robotic surgery systems provide only 2D vision), haptic feedback to the user, and most importantly tele-operation of the system through internet using a standard laptop keyboard with 2D vision. Such a system would provide the trainees an easy and widespread access to training for tele-operation with a physical experimental robotic surgery setup. Moreover, this setup is also useful to research various aspects of robotic surgery, ranging from development and testing of tools and control technologies to development and testing of skill training and assessment techniques, and to pilot verification of novel ideas in robotic surgery such us usefulness of haptic feedback.
Period31 May 2021
Event titleICRA2021 Full-Day Workshop on ‘Robot-Assisted Systems for Medical Training’
Event typeWorkshop