IEEE ICRA 2010 Full Day Workshop                                         Snakes, Worms and Catheters: Continuum and Serpentine Robots for Minimally Invasive Surgery


A broad variety of serpentine and continuum robots have been developed for minimally invasive surgical applications. These vary in size from less than a millimeter to several centimeters in diameter and include flexible needles, robotic catheters, multi-segmented sheaths for NOTES applications, snake-like robots capable of suturing and inchworm devices that can move over the heart. While these devices share many common features, little effort has been devoted to exploring and exploiting these commonalities. This workshop focuses on bringing together interested researchers in academia and industry to identify unifying research questions and approaches for these types of devices.


Monday May 3, 2010

Anchorage, Alaska USA


Many surgical applications require reaching tissue deep within the body. Examples include surgery in the throat, inside the heart and in the stomach. Achieving minimally invasive access to these locations imposes unique constraints on robot design. Many ingenious serpentine and continuum robot mechanisms have been developed to satisfy these constraints. Some of these designs consist of multiple miniaturized stages that are connected in series. Many others employ flexible links that function as both link and joint. Developing any of these robots for clinical use poses a common set of problems: design optimization, choice of sensing, kinematic modeling, procedure planning and real-time control. To date, however, researchers interested in a particular design have pursued solutions to these problems independently. This workshop will bring researchers together to identify unifying themes and solution strategies for this class of medical robots.  What methods can be shared to enhance telemanipulation capabilities, access to confined surgical spaces and safety? Is there a general kinematic modeling framework that encompasses steerable catheters and snake-like robots? What are the common challenges to clinical acceptance and commercial success for such robots? The goals of the workshop will be to identify such common themes and strategies, to build new partnerships between researchers and to spark new ideas for moving the field forward.


  1.   Active catheters

  2.   Continuum robots

  3.   Serpentine robots

  4.   Snake-like robots

  5.   Worm-like robots


The primary audience of the workshop consists of those researchers and their students who are currently investigating serpentine and continuum robots for surgical applications. The secondary audience consists of those researchers who are interested in applying this class of robots to medical applications.

Intended Audience

Pierre E. Dupont                   
Director of Pediatric Cardiac Bioengineering

Visiting Professor of Surgery

Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School

Mohsen Mahvash
Instructor of Surgery

Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School