Purpose - Paediatric congenital esophageal atresia surgery typically requires delicate and dexterous operations in a narrow and confined workspace. This study aims to develop a novel robot assisted surgical system to address these challenges. Design/methodology/approach - The proposed surgical robot consists of two symmetrical slave arms with nine degree of freedoms each. Each slave arm uses a rigid-dexterous configuration and consists of a coarse positioning manipulator and a distal fine operation manipulator. A small Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm (SCARA) mechanism was designed to form the main component of the coarse positioning unit, ensuring to endure large forces along the vertical direction and meet the operational demands. The fine positioning manipulator applied the novel design using flexible shafts and universal joints to achieve delicate operations while possessing a high rigidity. The corresponding kinematics has been derived and then was validated by a co-simulation that was performed based on the combined use of Adams and MATLAB with considering the real robot mass information. Experimental evaluations for the tip positioning accuracy and the ring transfer tasks have been performed. Findings - The simulation was performed to verify the correctness of the derived inverse kinematics and demonstrated the robot's flexibility. The experimental results illustrated that the end-effector can achieve a positioning accuracy within 1.5 mm in a confined 30 × 30 × 30 mm workspace. The ring transfer task demonstrated that the surgical robot is capable of providing a solution for dexterous tissue intervention in a narrow workspace for paediatric surgery. Originality/value - A novel and compact surgical assist robot is developed to support delicate operations by using the dexterous slave arm. The slave arm consists of a SCARA mechanism to avoid experiencing overload in the vertical direction and a tool manipulator driven by flexible shafts and universal joints to provide high dexterity for operating in a narrow workspace.
ASJC Scopus subject areas