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Assembling Reconfigurable Endoluminal Surgical system

Final Report Summary - ARES (Assembling Reconfigurable Endoluminal Surgical system)

The primary objective of the 'Assembling reconfigurable endoluminal surgical system' (ARES) project was 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 extremely high precision, localised 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:

- processing of previously acquired medical data (primarily images), simulation and planning of intervention;
- computer design of the optimal configuration of the endoluminal robotic tool customised for the specific therapy at the target site;
- selection of modules necessary to reconstruct the robotic device inside the body;
- delivery of modules within the body to the desired site;
- (self) assembling and reconfiguration of the resulting kinematic chain in order to form the pre-planned robot;
- extremely precise execution of the intervention;
- disassembly, recovery or biodegradation of the modules.

In order to reduce the risks associated with such a visionary 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 integration of sensing and actuation modules. ARES is the first milestone of a groundbreaking research theme.

One of the main dissemination was performed during the conference IROS 2008 in Nice that was organised by INRIA. Various interviews were given with newspapers journalists: Corriere della Serra, Radio France International, Web Times Media, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Science et Vie, Le Monde. J-P. Merlet, INRIA, also took part to the TV show 'Science X', the scientific magazine of France 2, where he presented the ARES project. Z. Nagy presented the ARES project in 'Nouvo', the scientific magazine of TSR, Switzerland, and on the daily science show of the Hungarian National Radio (Kossuth).

Another main dissemination was performed during the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2009) held on May 12-17, 2009. Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e di Perfezionamento Sant'Anna (SSSA) was invited to give a lecture in the workshop on innovation in medical robotics, where the concept and recent results of the ARES project was presented to the experts in medical robotics. Three presentations by SSSA, Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et Automatique (INRIA), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) were also given by the ARES project members in technical sessions. Another big opportunity was that the ARES project was invited to provide some mock-ups to the exhibition Sci-fi surgery / medical robots, Hunterian Museum, The Royal College of Surgeons of England. This exhibition lasted for four months, and this has propagated the vision of ARES to medical experts and the general public.

In addition, a tiki-wiki based web-site, http://www.ares-nest.org was created to present the project objectives to the general public and to be used as a collaboration tool between the partners. A leaflet was prepared for distribution to non-specialists, avoiding technical language, mathematical formulae and acronyms as much as possible.

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