Augmented Reality & Surgical Robotics

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Mechanical Engineering


Integrating augmented-reality technologies within surgical robotics to improve visualisation, user-interfacing and surgical efficiency within orthopaedics procedures

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509486/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
2066516 Studentship EP/N509486/1 09/10/2017 30/06/2021 Hisham Iqbal
Description This award supports a project run by Imperial College London to explore the impact and possible benefits of using augmented-reality in the context of surgical robotics. The current generation of robots traditionally employ user-interfaces that display 3-dimensional medical data (CT scans, patient anatomy models etc.) in the 2D environment of a touchscreen display which can present cognitive and ergonomic challenges to manage in an operating setting. A key motivating factor in the research is to explore if AR can present a more intuitive and effective method of delivering medical informatics during computer/robot-assisted surgical procedures. In the first year of the award, a research system was produced which created an augmented reality based user-interface of a commercially available robotic platform for knee resurfacing procedures. The research system transmitted the information that was accessible on a touchscreen monitor attached to the robot to a virtual heads-up display which could be placed anywhere in space and was no longer physically tethered to the robot. A study was designed to probe the impact of this first AR-based intervention, and found that there was no significant increase in operating time when employing this system. Additionally, an ergonomic based qualitative evaluation of this AR-based system reported that the majority of test participants found little physical discomfort (eye/neck strain) when using an augmented reality headset when receiving patient information during the operating process, with test participants also agreeing that the use of AR added value to the overall user-experience when compared to the traditional touchscreen-based interface.
Exploitation Route The current research is being expanded upon within ICL to explore a fully AR-based workflow for surgical robotics, with 3D based models of patient anatomy and prosthetic implants to aid the planning and execution phases of a knee-resurfacing process. A key aim of the current phases of work is to both design and critically examine a fully AR-based workflow for a commercially available robotic platform. Future studies aim to query the possible benefits and drawbacks on utilising a new mode of visualisation to deliver the user interface and experience for the current generation of surgical robots.
The output of both works, completed and currently in progress can be utilised by future researchers to explore more effective ways of designing 3D workflows for computer/robot assisted surgeries. The research output can also serve as a useful tool for research and development teams working with the current generation of surgical robots to determine the potential value of porting current robotic user-interfaces over to commercially available augmented reality headsets. The output of this work can potentially one day be used as a benchmark for possible benefits and risks associated with integrating the ever expanding range of augmented reality technologies within surgical robotics.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology