Following the path prevention‒diagnosis‒treatment‒convalescence, it is easily understood how robotic technologies can make a significant contribution both to improving the quality of care and to savings in public health costs. Prevention is enhanced by using telepresence devices to be used in hospitals, allowing remote communication, psychological support for patients and their assistance without the direct intervention of medical staff. Diagnosis is amended by introducing more accurate and more extensive screening systems of patients, both local and remote, e.g. robotic biopsies and satellite centres for tele-echography inspections. The current robotic surgery systems gain ground by the adoption of high-quality intervention solutions at a reduced cost. Robotic aids help maintain the independence and active life of the elderly, as well as they allow for early diagnosis of pathologies, care of patients at home during convalescence after surgery, supervision of drug use, carrying out continuous cycles of rehabilitation therapies.

PACMAN

PACMAN
  •  ​ Needle Holder with Handling Capability
  • ​  February 2021 - August 2022
  • ​  75,000 €
PACMAN is a proof-of-concept project aimed at reducing the time-to-market of the patent of a new laparoscopic instrument with a spherical wrist capable of grasping and rolling a suture needle. Some of the most critical and delicate tasks in minimally invasive robotic surgery are found in reconstructive procedures due to the time and high dexterity required, as well as the risks of organ and tissue damage related to poorly performed sutures. This happens more frequently when the orientation of the needle is not fully under surgeon's control. The mechanism for a needle holder is capable of imprinting rolling motions on a circular cross-sectional object by adding a pulley to operate an additional degree of freedom responsible for the rolling motion of the object. This solution is fully compatible with the latest generation of da Vinci robot tools, such as the da Vinci Xi, which is equipped with an additional actuator for advanced tools.
 

HARMONY

HARMONY
  •  ​ Enhancing Healthcare with Assistive Robotic Mobile Manipulation
  • ​  January 2021 - June 2024
  • ​  7,191,613.75 €
  • ​ ​website
HARMONY develops robotic mobile manipulation technologies for assisting staff in hospital environments. Europe’s ageing population along with higher numbers of people in the healthcare system will require increased care and staffing levels. Automation will become a quality and precision must and a medical business fact. However, the reality is that our current robotic automation solutions only offer “islands of automation” where either mobility or manipulation is dealt with in isolation. The project aims to fill this gap in knowledge on combining both robotic mobility and manipulation modalities in complex, human-centred environments. Through demonstrators and open software modules, robotic mobile manipulation systems can be seamlessly integrated into our existing processes and spaces to meet growing needs in the healthcare industry and beyond.
 

BARTOLO

BARTOLO
  •  ​ Bioptic Adavanced Robotic Technologies in OncoLOgy
  • ​  October 2018 - February 2021
  • ​  3,148,453 €
Prostate cancer is the most frequent malignant neoplasm and the second cause of cancer death among men, with a steady increase in trend due to the overall length of life expectancy. Despite the technological progress of radiological instrumental investigation and the ultrasound systems needed to perform the biopsy, a false negative rate remains that swings around 30%. This project aims at effectively increasing the diagnostic capacity of prostate biopsy. To achieve this goal, an advanced biopsy robotic system is developed for high-precision testing and integration of an autonomous control, an optical fiber probe, an image fusion software, and a predictive software for detecting prostate cancer and its aggressiveness. The expected improvements concern a reduction of: the number of prostate tissue samples, the number of biopsies for the patient, the risk of complications associated with biopsy, the direct and indirect costs of healthcare expenditure to diagnose prostate cancer.
 

PROSCAN

PROSCAN
  •  ​ Micro-mechanical and robotic tools for the diagnosis and therapy of prostate cancer
  • ​  April 2018 - October 2021
  • ​  8,754,244 € 

Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most frequent malignancy in men, with a worldwide incidence of 60-99 new cases/100,000 a year. In Italy, PCa represents 18% of male cancers and accounts for 8% of mortality. The aim of this project is to design and develop new medical devices to improve our ability to diagnose and cure PCa. First, we want to generate a high-precision device for prostate cancer biopsy, based on the implementation of a robotic arm allowing targeted bioptic sampling based on the information gained from magnetic resonance and ultrasound images. Second, we want to develop an advanced prototype for treatment of PCa, exploiting the selective effects of micro-mechanical vibration stress on tumor cells, thus killing them while sparing neighbour healthy cells. The robotic system for prostate-guided needle biopsy is conceived as a system capable of self-learning through the storage and processing of maps derived from prostatic imaging.

 

MUSHA

MUSHA
  •  ​ MUltifunctional Smart HAnds: novel insight for new technological insight for mini-invasive surgical tools and artificial anthropomorphic hands
  • ​  February 2017 - January 2019
  • ​  95,000 € 
  • ​ ​website

MUSHA aims at creating future generations of bio-inspired tools and advanced bio-aware manipulation paradigms toward breakthrough mini-invasive surgical instruments and android robotic hands. Bio-inspired mechanical design leads to reduction of tools’ weight and dimension by limiting the number of actuators while preserving dexterity and manipulation capabilities. A fiber optic sensor is to be integrated to measure the contact forces exchanged with the environment and the temperature of the touched materials. MUSHA arises from the need to replicate human manipulation capabilities in various fields where robotics can help to improve life. These include unstructured environments in which a humanoid robot must replace the human being or parts of the body to address daily-life tasks, as well as minimally invasive robotic surgery where the surgeon is unable to use hands to manipulate organs and tissues while feeling their anatomy, consistency and temperature.