Towards Robotic Autonomy in Surgery

Towards Robotic Autonomy in Surgery

Towards Robotic Autonomy in Surgery

There is a growing need for electronic and sensing devices that can conform to non-flat surfaces and that can accommodate mechanical motions and stresses.

Such devices are needed for wearable electronics applications such as physiological monitoring of patients and athletes, but also for prosthetic devices (artificial limbs), robotics and brain-machine interfaces.

Dexterity and perception capabilities of surgical robots may soon be enhanced by cognitive functions that can support surgeons in decision making and performance monitoring, and enhance surgical quality. However, the basic elements of autonomy are not well understood and their mutual interaction is unexplored. Current classification of autonomy encompasses six basic levels: Level 0: no autonomy;Level 1: robot assistance; Level 2: task autonomy; Level 3: conditional autonomy; Level 4: high autonomy. Level 5: full autonomy.

The practical meaning of each level and the necessary technologies are the subject of intense debate and development. In this workshop, we will focus on exploring the transition from level 0 to level 1 and 2, where the robot is providing cognitive and operative support in a “shared” control approach, with the human always in charge of decisions.  These levels have the basic building blocks of autonomy, i.e. the ability to understand the task, to plan a proper action, and to ensure its safe execution.

We plan to organize the workshop in four tracks, to examine the needs and challenges:

  1. The surgical needs of autonomous support and their impact on industry will be presented by surgeons and technicians;
  2. Knowledge representation will be addressed by examining a top-down approach based on ontological description and a bottom-up approach based on data analysis;
  3. The current advances in situation awareness will be presented by describing current work in real-time reasoning and machine learning for decision making;
  4. The control aspects will focus on the description of the shared autonomy framework.

Two keynote speakers will start each track, and a call for contributions will be issued.

The workshop will end with a scientific aperitif to freely discuss the main aspects and opportunities of cognitive robotic surgery and the challenges to be addressed in the coming years.

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