Participation of the Intelligent Robotics and Automation Laboratory (IRAL) to a 5G telerobotic surgery pilot live demo

Photo from the 5G telerobotic surgery demo. Left: Dr. Konstantinidis remotely handling the haptic surgical controllers; Right: Snapshot of the surgical robotic tools operating on the FRS Dome.

The Intelligent Robotics and Automation Laboratory (IRAL) of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the NTUA has participated at the Vodafone Giga City 5G presentation event that took place in the city of Trikala on the 12th of December 2019. During the event, IRAL and the Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (ICCS) contributed the first remote robotic surgery demo over 5G in Greece, and among the very few in the world!

In cooperation with Vodafone Greece and the Athens Medical Center, the esteemed surgeon Prof. Konstantinos M. Konstantinidis MD, PhD, FACS, Adjunct Professor of Surgery Ohio State University and Scientific Director of the General, Laparoscopic, Bariatric & Robotic Surgery Clinic at the Athens Medical Center, performed surgical exercises on a robotic surgery training kit, the Fundamentals of Robotic Surgery (FRS) Dome, sitting comfortably at Trikala, teleoperating the robot, located some 300 Km away in an operating room at the Athens Medical Center in Athens.

For the purpose of the demo IRAL contributed its telesurgical research prototype robot, the Double Delta, connecting the surgeon’s haptic controls to the 5G network at Trikala while the surgical robotic manipulators sat at the Athens Medical Center in Maroussi, Athens. The surgeon could see the operating field in real time and with High Definition, while controlling the surgical robotic tools over the network with a negligible delay. This is the next step in robotic surgery, where the surgeon can perform surgical operations from afar, responding to emergency situations, or in extreme environments such as space or underwater facilities.

Over the last years, IRAL has been performing basic research in telerobotics and haptics for medical applications. During the last five years, in particular, there is an active internal research program in robotic surgery, focusing on topics that include: haptic feedback and surgeon assistance, motion compensation in robotic cardiac surgery, modeling and identification of surgical skill, autonomous and semi-autonomous control of surgical robots and other. Within this program, IRAL has developed a novel prototype platform for robotic teleoperation consisting of: i) special haptic setups serving as the surgeon’s controllers, and ii) a complex parallel robotic configuration that can incorporate robotic laparoscopic tools. These setups have a unique design which gives them special precision characteristics and are already being used for basic research in the aforementioned topics.

IRAL Research Team contributing to the event: George Moustris (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow), Mr. Paraskevas Oikonomou (Ph.D. Student) and Costas Tzafestas (Associate Professor)