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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name



Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Abhilash Pandya


Surgical robots have become more widely used in recent years thanks to their increased precision, smaller incisions, and shorter operating times. These systems, however, are constrained by the robot’s large space requirement, the static location of console, and expensive upfront and maintenance cost. One example of this type of robot is the da Vinci Surgical System, made by Intuitive Surgical. The da Vinci has two main units: the surgical master unit and the slave manipulator. Currently, the surgeon operates the robot by sitting at the control unit, which houses a stereoscopic camera display and hand controllers for manipulating the surgical arms.

The objective of this research is to create an alternative control system for the da Vinci Surgical System that is easy to set up, has a small physical footprint and can be widely distributed. The alternatives should mimic the standard controls, so individuals do not have to learn a new control schema. The Leap Motion, the HTC Vive, and the Xbox Kinect are three different, low-cost, tracking devices that allow for hands-free computer interactions. Software was developed to allow these to integrate with a simulation of the da Vinci and move the patient-side manipulators (PSMs). The tracking devices read the movement of the user’s hands and move the manipulators to match. Additionally, the orientation of the hand is read, and the robot wrist tries to emulate it.

The methods presented in this work exhibit stable, precise and intuitive performance, all while having a much smaller set-up space than the current standard. Each device was able to accurately track the position of the user’s hands and move with predictable behavior. This work, then, represents a step towards having a more compact and potentially mobile robotic surgical system. Future advances will include more features such as haptic feedback and camera control.

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