Abstract: Much of ongoing robotic endoscope research is focused on locomotion, with only limited exploration into feedback control and autonomy in the unconventional and dynamic in vivo environment. This letter presents a modular endoscopy simulation apparatus (MESA) to quickly, affordably, and repeatedly test novel robotic endoscope control schemes in a synthetic colon at an accessible scale. The MESA allows for replication of many common physiologic barriers for current medical robotics, such as disturbances, patient positional changes, angulation of the colon, and a dynamic visual environment. The MESA will allow research teams to quickly and repeatedly validate new control strategies to minimize the effect of these physiological barriers before testing in costly in vivo procedures. The MESA platform and synthetic colon described in this letter have shown successful replication of colon geometry, visual appearance, peristaltic wave speeds and pressures, and disturbances from patient movement. The mold for the synthetic colon was built in sections to allow for geometry changes for future molds and has shown marked similarity to in vivo images from colonoscopies. The actuators chosen for the various controllable stages have proven ample power to produce maximum-case disturbances expected during procedures, and the stages are modular in structure to allow for a variety of testing scenarios. Inflatable rubber tubes and electronic solenoid valves are used to produce contractile forces, and have shown excess capability to reproduce physiological motility. The simulator presented here will aid in future feedback control, localization, and autonomy development for robotic endoscopes.

Formosa, G.A., Prendergast, J.M., Peng, J., Kirkpatrick, D., Rentschler, M.E., A Modular Endoscopy Simulation Apparatus (MESA) for Robotic Medical Device Sensing and Control Validation,” IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters. 3(4): 4054-4061, 2018.

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