Abstract: Objective: Robotic endoscopes have the potential to dramatically improve endoscopy procedures, however current attempts remain limited due to mobility and sensing challenges and have yet to offer the full capabilities of traditional tools. Endoscopic intervention (e.g., biopsy) for robotic systems remains an understudied problem and must be addressed prior to clinical adoption. This paper presents an autonomous intervention technique onboard a Robotic Endoscope Platform (REP) using endoscopy forceps, an auto-feeding mechanism, and positional feedback. Methods: A workspace model is established for estimating tool position while a Structure from Motion (SfM) approach is used for target-polyp position estimation with the onboard camera and positional sensor. Utilizing this data, a visual system for controlling the REP position and forceps extension is developed and tested within multiple anatomical environments. Results: The workspace model demonstrates accuracy of 5.5% while the target-polyp estimates are within 5 mm of absolute error. This successful experiment requires only 15 seconds once the polyp has been located, with a success rate of 43% using a 1 cm polyp, 67% for a 2 cm polyp, and 81% for a 3 cm polyp. Conclusion: Workspace modeling and visual sensing techniques allow for autonomous endoscopic intervention and demonstrate the potential for similar strategies to be used onboard mobile robotic endoscopic devices. Significance: To the authors’ knowledge this is the first attempt at automating the task of colonoscopy intervention onboard a mobile robot. While the REP is not sized for actual procedures, these techniques are translatable to devices suitable for in vivo application.

Zhang, Q., Prendergast, J.M., Formosa, G.A., Fulton, M.J., Rentschler, M.E., “Enabling Autonomous Colonoscopy Intervention Using a Robotic Endoscope Platform,” IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.

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