The primary objective of the ARES Project is to investigate a revolutionary system for endoluminal surgery including the development of an experimental prototype. Surgical procedures of the future will evolve from today???s minimal invasive approach to ext remely high precision, localized and targeted endoluminal techniques. New surgical tools, capable of entering the human body through natural orifices or very small incisions and configuring themselves into complex kinematic structures at the specific site of intervention are required. Endoluminal surgery will encompass several distinctive steps: a) processing of previously acquired medical data (primarily images), simulation and planning of intervention; b) computer design of the optimal configuration of th e endoluminal robotic tool customized for the specific therapy at the target site; c) selection of modules necessary to reconstruct the robotic device inside the body; d) delivery of modules within the body to the desired site; e) (self) assembling and rec onfiguration of the resulting kinematic chain in order to form the pre-planned robot; f) extremely precise execution of the intervention; g) disassembly, recovery or biodegradation of the modules.In order to reduce the risks associated with such a visionar y and challenging goal and in order to achieve tangible results in a three year time frame, ARES will focus on a specific objective, i.e. the investigation and development of a reconfigurable surgical robot for the gastrointestinal tract. The project will primarily focus on critical theoretical and technological issues for implementing the above concept, including the kinematic analysis of the reconfigurable internal mechanisms; locking/unlocking systems; control and communication; design, fabrication and i ntegration of sensing and actuation modules. ARES is the first milestone of a ground-breaking research theme which has connections to, but does not directly fall within, the FP6 Thematic Priorities.
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