Conventional surgical robots include large columns with multiple arms holding tiny cameras and various instruments such as scissors, graspers, needle holders, clip applicators and more. For the greatest flexibility in performing procedures, surgeons want the freedom to manipulate these instruments at their chosen angle, without constraint.
Often, surgeons prefer to make incisions that are as small and as few as practical to minimize patient discomfort and improve outcomes. For many cases, the ideal procedure would be performed through a single, small incision that can simultaneously accommodate visualization cameras and all needed instruments.
This ideal can be difficult or impossible to achieve, as the conventional robot design doesn’t allow for instruments to approach the site at an acute enough angle.
The challenge for surgical robot designers, then, is to enable the arms to operate as closely together as possible, so that instruments and cameras can enter the incision nearly in parallel. This freedom of motion can help to minimize the invasiveness of the procedure, improve the surgeon’s angle of view, and allow for unconstrained dexterity when manipulating multiple instruments.
Part of the solution to this challenge is placing the articulated arms on smaller columns in a multiple- column design, so they can be positioned independently and closer together. However, even in this design, the limiting factor is the width of the arms themselves as constrained by the effective width of the arm joints.
Learn how engineers can design arm joints axially more compact without compromising the precision and performance required for delicate, life- changing or even life-saving surgeries.