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Peri-Ocularly Navigated Exteroceptive Snake Robot for Novel Retinal Interventions

Objective

Intraocular treatments require manipulation of structures with dimensions comparable to hand tremor. The demanded dexterity, coupled with reduced haptic and depth perception, calls for robotic assistance.

Despite notable benefits, existing robots are not clinically disruptive but follow well-trodden intervention protocols with significant limitations, e.g. lack of flexibility at the scleral incision and limited manipulation bandwidth, as to avoid scleral, lens, and retinal damage. Robotics also does not obviate the prerequisite of the risky, cataract-inducing vitrectomy, which may cause retinal detachment (RD) or sight loss.

Novel interventions like stem-cell delivery pose yet further challenges. Apart from removing healthy vitreous, they require millimetre-long retinal tears, lifting the retinal membrane, and injecting a stem-cell suspension or sheet. Current robots facilitate manipulations but conceivably neither enable alternative approaches nor reduce retinal-tear-induced risks.

PIONEER, the proposed snake robot, can disrupt clinical protocol by navigating peri-ocularly and around the orbital muscles to suprachoroidally reach the retina. Revolutionizing existing robot paradigms, PIONEER innovates both scientifically and technically.

Optimal robot compliance will ensure force-adaptive peri-ocular steering conforming to the eye’s exterior. A tactile sleeve with micro-sensors will provide exteroceptive force sensing and shape estimation. Enhanced navigation, fusing optical coherence tomography with on-line vessel detection from novel tip-mounted probes, will ensure safe guidance to avoid vessels through imposed virtual fixtures and path planning. No vitrectomy will be required and the posterior scleral incision will leave the retinal membrane intact, minimising RD risk.

PIONEER can be an enabler of emerging stem-cell interventions and futuristic procedures like drug-implant insertion and nerve interfacing, currently at human-dexterity limits or impossible.

Field of science

  • /medical and health sciences/clinical medicine/ophthalmology

Call for proposal

ERC-2016-STG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-STG - Starting Grant

Host institution

KING'S COLLEGE LONDON
Address
Strand
WC2R 2LS London
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 970 909,60

Beneficiaries (2)

KING'S COLLEGE LONDON
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 970 909,60
Address
Strand
WC2R 2LS London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 529 090,40
Address
Gower Street
WC1E 6BT London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments