The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | September 19, 2008

Robotics Institute Seminar, September 19, 2008
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

Theory and Design of Novel Robot Architectures for New Surgical Frontiers



Nabil Simaan

Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
Columbia University at the city of New York


Time and Place


Mauldin Auditorium (NSH 1305 )

Time: 3:30 to 4:30 pm




During the last decade, medical robotics proved its efficacy in extending the capabilities of surgeons through seamless coupling of information with intra-operative action. Using robotic assistance, surgeons were able to successfully overcome the constraints of Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) for applications such as abdominal laparoscopic surgery, cardiac surgery, and prostatectomy. Despite these successes, the current robotic systems fail overcome the challenges of surgeries on organs located in deep surgical fields such as the throat and the inner ear.

The speaker will present his ongoing research on robotic systems for surgical assistance in anatomically challenging surgical fields. The ongoing work on flexible snake-like robots for MIS of the throat, flexible under-actuated robots for cochlear-implant surgery, and dual-arm parallel robots for dexterous intra-ocular micro-vascular retinal surgery will be highlighted with focus on both the expected clinical impact and the theoretical research problems associated with these robotic systems.

A novel screw theory framework for the estimation of forces of interaction between flexible (continuum) snake-like robots and their surrounding anatomy will be presented. This framework uses intrinsic information (joint-level efforts) and extrinsic information (e.g. external sensory information or a-priori knowledge of the interaction with the anatomy) to produce estimates of the wrench applied by multi-backbone continuum robots on the anatomy. The talk will also introduce problems of optimal insertion path planning of under-actuated steerable electrodes for cochlear implant surgery and dual-arm micro-surgery on hollow suspended organs such as the eye.


Speaker Biography


Dr. Nabil Simaan received his Ph.D. from the department of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in 2002. His, M.Sc. research (1996-1999) focused on the dimensional synthesis and singularity analysis of composite serial-parallel robot architectures for medical applications using Grassmann line geometry. His Ph.D. research (1999-2002) focused on the use of Grassmann line geometry and algebraic geometry for stiffness synthesis and control of variable geometry parallel robots with kinematic and actuation redundancy. In 2003 he joined the Johns Hopkins NSF Engineering Research Center on Computer-Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology (ERC-CISST) and held a position of a post-doctoral Research Scientist until the end of 2004. During his stay at ERC-CISST he designed novel flexible robots for Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) of the throat and the upper airways. In 2005 he joined Columbia University as an Assistant Professor and a Director of the Advanced Robotics and Mechanism Applications (ARMA) research lab. His research interests are focused on the design and control of novel robotic systems such as parallel robots, continuum snake-like robots, and flexible under-actuated robots for surgical assistance in MIS, Less Invasive Surgery (LIS), and Natural Orifice Trans-luminal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES). His active funded research is on robotic assistance for dexterous bi-manual ophthalmic microsurgery, Cochlear Implant surgery, single port Less Invasive Surgery (LIS), and automation for high-throughput biodosimetry.


Speaker Appointments


For appointments, please contact Howie Choset (

The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.