SARAS Multirobots-Surgery is the first step toward the next generation of surgical robotic systems merging artificial intelligence, computer vision, machine learning and cognitive control for smarter and safer hospitals
Nowadays, during Robotic-Minimally Invasive Surgeries, two surgeons are needed in the operating room:
- the main surgeon, who tele-operates the robotic surgery platform,
- and the assistant surgeon, who uses laparoscopic instruments to provide support during the procedure.
The SARAS project will allow the next generation of surgical robots to execute minimally invasive procedures with only the main surgeon, without the need of an assistant. Therefore decreasing costs, reducing hospital waiting lists and improving the healthcare system’s efficiency.
Through the collaboration of 9 European partners (including universities, hospitals and small-medium enterprises), SARAS will develop a new robotic system, consisting of a pair of cooperating robotic arms holding off-the-shelf laparoscopic instruments. The SARAS system will perform autonomously specific tasks currently carried out by the assistant surgeon during a robotic or a laparoscopic procedure.
Since 2018, the SARAS Consortium focused on the development of:
- A pair of robotic arms to be fixed directly on the operating table, controlling off-the-shelf laparoscopic tools;
- A bilateral teleoperation architecture, to allow remote control for the assistant surgeon through SARAS arms;
- A perception module to recognize the action of basic surgical tasks and to detect organs;
- A cognitive module, capable of collecting the outputs of the perception module and planning collision-free trajectories of the SARAS arms, to execute surgical tasks like cutting tissues and threads, holding and moving organs.
All these components have been integrated into the first release of the SARAS system; the so-called MULTIROBOTS-SURGERY platform is composed of a remotely controlled version of the SARAS arms, to be used by the assistant surgeon, cooperating with a commercial robotic system to be used by the first surgeon.
Expert urological surgeons tested the MULTIROBOTS-SURGERY platform by simulating a Robotic Assisted Radical Prostatectomy (RARP) on advanced human abdominal synthetic phantoms developed during the project.
The collected data will trigger the implementation of the next two releases of the SARAS system:
- In the first one, called SOLO-SURGERY, the robotic system will replace the assistant while the main surgeon performs the operation through the console of the commercial robotic system;
- in the second one, called LAPARO2.0-SURGERY, it will play the role of the assistant, while the main surgeon uses standard handheld laparoscopic tools.