Work Packages

The objectives of the research and technological development (RTD) work packages within µRALPare summarized below.

WP2 Specifications and Guidelines

The first goal of this WP is to generate initial medical system specifications, user requirements, surgical protocols and surgical workflows for guiding the design and development of the proposed robotic technologies. In addition, it will generate a comprehensive list of risky patterns that can possibly be observed during laser phonomicrosurgeries.

The second goal of this WP is to specify mechanical and electrical interfaces, communication protocols, and software platforms (operating systems, compilers, APIs, CAD, medical image processing software) to ensure uniformity, consistency, and interoperability of the technology and knowhow created by different partners.

WP3 Medical Imaging

The first objective of this WP is to collect high-resolution images and videos of vocal fold diseases and real laser phonomicrosurgeries. These will include CAT-scans and MRI images of laryngeal tumors, with the objective of creating a comprehensive dataset useful for the medical community, for the creation of the supervisory cognitive safety system (WP10), and for the development of image processing algorithms for both the laser visual servoing system (WP8) and the augmented reality system (WP9).

The second objective of this WP is to perform experiments and collect multimedia data about cancer tissue detection and visualization using fluorescence techniques, thus supporting the research and development efforts towards a new cancer tissue imaging system (WP6).

WP4 Evaluation and Testing

The goal of this WP is to evaluate and support the development of novel laser phonomicrosurgery technologies during this research program. Experimentation will be realized to obtain reliable performance metrics related to the safety, precision, robustness and reliability of the new devices and software units.

The experiments conducted within this WP are expected to contribute to the generation of metrics and standard benchmarks for the evaluation of surgical robotic tools, specially related to safety. These will link specifications and requirements coming from the medical area to those from engineering, thus contributing to the establishment of more concrete safety concepts in surgical robotics.

WP5 Micro-Robot Design

This WP will focus on the design, develop and control a novel micromechatronic laser micromanipulator device. This device will be used as the end-effector of a new endoscopic system for laser phonomicrosurgeries, and will be capable of accurate laser aiming, featuring high resolution, high accuracy, and fast response times. Safety features will be an integral part of the design, following the specifications and recommendations coming from WP2. This device will be the enabling technology for the creation of a new laser microsurgery system, so its development is one of the main pillars of this research project. It will enable teleoperation, high-level automation and the implementation of adaptive safety algorithms for improving the quality and safety of laser phonomicrosurgeries.

WP6 Cancer Tissue Imaging System Design

The first goal of this WP is to design and develop a micro-optomechatronic device capable of detecting and visualizing cancerous laryngeal tissue in real-time. Its second goal is the development of a stereoview white light imaging system based on fiberscope to enable real-time visualization of the target tissue. This system will be used to perform both 2D and 3D reconstruction of the tissue and will assist the definition of the laser excision path by the surgeon. The third goal of the WP is the integration or cooperation of both imaging systems in order to deliver targeted images for the surgery.

WP7 Endoscopic Systems Design

The objective of this WP is to design and develop endoscopic systems for the deployment, support, positioning and orientation of the micro-optomechatronic devices developed in WP5 and WP6. The devices created in this WP will provide the appropriate degrees of freedom for effective access to the larynx and all possible phonomicrosurgery sites. In addition, a major aim in here will be the incorporation of the new micro-mechanisms and imaging systems developed throughout this research program into a single endoscope. This is expected to result in the first endoscope with additional degrees of freedom at the distal end including two different kinds of imaging systems as well as a micromanipulator for laser phonomicrosurgery, thus creating a new kind of surgical techniques.

WP8 Teleoperation and Automation Systems

The first goal of this WP is to research and develop novel user interfaces for intuitive, precise, safe and ergonomic teleoperated laser aiming control during phonomicrosurgeries. This will include the creation of experimental setups to investigate critical factors that affect each of these characteristics, generating data and guidelines for the development of an optimal teleoperation system for laser phonomicrosurgeries.

In addition, this WP will focus on the design and implement software and hardware interfaces for complete surgical system integration; the creation of systems for intraoperative surgical planning and automatic execution; and the development of safety algorithms for real-time supervision of surgical procedures.

WP9 Augmented Reality System

The goal of this WP is to create an augmented reality system for laser phonomicrosurgeries based on real-time registration of preoperative and live intraoperative data. This system will complement the user interfaces developed in WP8. It will also allow, for the first time, the simultaneous presentation of live video, highlighted cancerous areas, and preoperatively acquired images as well as planned surgical actions directly in the surgeon's field of view using endoscopic instruments for laser surgery. The best configuration of the AR system will be investigated and implemented in the course of this research in order to achieve optimal support for the surgeon in terms of objective criteria including time, completeness of tumor removal, fatigue, etc.

WP10 Cognitive Supervisory System

The first goal of this WP is to create a cognitive system capable of learning and predicting the continuous appearance changes of the surgical site observed during laser phonomicrosurgeries. Then, the second goal of this WP is to use this cognitive system to create a supervisory system able to generate safety alarms if unexpected/unforeseen situations are detected.

WP11 Integration

The major objective of this WP is to ensure the development of compatible technologies and systems during this research program, which later should seamlessly integrate into a final and complete laser phonomicrosurgery system demonstrator. This integration of the new technologies and systems is, in fact, the second goal of this WP.