Dynamic Structures & Materials, working on an SBIR project for The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), is developing a new hexapod for compliance-based medical imaging and surgical interventions. The design features a six degree-of-freedom parallel end-effector mechanism that can be mounted on the end of a medium-sized robot manipulator.
From the SBIR project summary:
Ultrasound represents one of the most promising new technologies for use both on and off the battlefield. During ultrasound procedures, it is typically required that a specified level of force be applied on the patient, which is made particularly difficult because of the compliance of soft skin tissue and involuntary movements due to respiration. It is extremely difficult for a serial-link manipulator to respond quickly enough to accommodate this motion due to high inertia and inaccuracies caused by low stiffness at the tool point.
From the SBIR project abstract:
Applications for ultrasound are expanding beyond medical imaging to include new functionality, with the potential to halt internal bleeding or provide an alternative to manual suturing. These types of functions are suited to a surgical robot, offering the potential for tele-operation or even autonomous functionality. However, the requirements for positioning an ultrasound device are different than those for a typical surgical robot. Dynamic Structures and Materials has begun research on an end-effector that will use parallel kinematics and force feedback to make an actuator that is"actively compliant". The current progress is described, along with plans for further development. When completed, the end-effector will be fixed to the end of a conventional articulated robot. Using its high bandwidth in six axes of motion and force feedback, the end-effector will be able to correct for compliance and shifts in the position of the patient. Thus, controlled contact can be maintained between the ultrasound device and the patient, allowing for proper function of the device.
Dynamic Structures and Materials has a demonstrated history of developing hexapods. Learn more at the hexapod page here. Contact us if you have any questions or would like to know more about the features of our hexapods (parallel kinematic devices).