Embodied AI in robotic surgery: Outcomes of the EU funded SARAS project

International Workshop in conjuction with the 20th International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR 2021)

December 7th, 2021

Since the introduction of robots into the operating room we witnessed a wide range of benefits in terms of patients’ safety, rehabilitation improvement and costs reduction for hospitals. In the meanwhile, many concepts and practices of traditional surgery changed to adapt to the new technologies. We expect a new significant forward leap with the introduction of intelligent systems that can operate autonomously, or semi-autonomously in cooperation with the surgeons. In this quest of intelligence, growing synergies from diverse scientific fields emerged: from machine learning to human-machine interaction, from knowledge representation to collaborative robotics. This opens to a new research field, namely Cognitive Surgical Robotics, that includes many areas involved in the integration of advanced cognitive capabilities into robot-assisted surgical procedure.

The aim of the SARAS project (Smart Autonomous Robotic Assistant Surgeon) is to explore the next generation of surgical robots that will allow a single surgeon to execute Robotic Minimally Invasive Surgery (R-MIS) without the need of an expert assistant surgeon. The ambition of SARAS project is to develop a solo surgery system able to support the surgeon during the R-MIS by executing tasks in an autonomous way. Perception & Decision Autonomy, Cognitive Control, Advanced Planning & Navigation and Human-Robot Interaction are the core technologies embedded within the SARAS supervision system. SARAS platforms are designed to both complement any existing and future surgical robotic system, either teleoperated or not, and to be used alone for traditional laparoscopic operations performed in solo surgery mode.

In this workshop we will present the outcomes of the SARAS project in terms of experience, results of the research, new findings and platforms developed. In the morning sessions, presentations of many partners of the consortium will allow the audience to get into the challenges faced during the project, the way we addressed them and how we came out with a working prototype of an autonomous assistant surgeon. We will also invite external speakers to introduce the current state of research in robotic surgery, and to provide a vision on the (not so near) future of surgical robotics. The afternoon session will be more dedicated to the stakeholders of surgical robotics, including a round table to discuss on the state of the practice, open challenges and the opportunities in this field.

Program (tentative)

Morning session

9:00 – 9:10 Welcome and presentation of the day
9:10 – 9:50 Keynote: Sanja Dogramadzi (University of Sheffield, UK) Robotics in Healthcare
9:50 – 10:10 Riccardo Muradore (University of Verona, Italy) The SARAS project
10:10 – 10:30 Cristian Secchi (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy) A robustly stable and efficient teleoperation architecture for tele-surgery
10:30 – 10:50 Marcello Bonfé (University of Ferrara, Italy) Dynamic motion planning for assistive surgical robots: reactive and predictive approaches
10:50 – 11:00  Coffee break  
11:10 – 11:50 Keynote: Ferdinando Rodriguez y Baena (Imperial College London, UK) Robotic surgery in 20 years
11:50 – 12:10 Gernot Kronreif (ACMIT, Austria) Phantoms for the next generation of surgery
12:10 – 12:30 Alicia Casals (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain) Multirobots cooperation in surgery
12:30 – 12:50 Francesco Setti (University of Verona, Italy) AI-based cognitive architecture
12:50 – 13:00 Wrap up of the morning session and the anticipation of afternoon

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch break  

 

Afternoon session

14:00 – 14:40 Keynote: Alberto Breda, MD (Fundació Puigvert, Spain) A surgeon’s perspective on surgical robots
14:40 – 16:30

Round table (organized by San Raffaele Hospital, Italy) to discuss challenges, lessons learned and perspectives of research in AI and autonomous robotics in surgery, as well as its future applications, from a multi-stakeholders perspective. Guests:

  • Salonia Andrea, MD (San Raffaele Hospital, Italy)
  • Alessandro Larcher, MD (San Raffaele Hospital, Italy)
  • Sanja Dogramadzi (University of Sheffield, UK)
  • Ferdinando Rodriguez y Baena (Imperial College London, UK)
  • Federica Merenda (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy)
  • Giovanni Butturini, MD (Pederzoli Clinic of Peschiera del Garda, Italy)

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