Smart and Autonomous Robots for Surgery

Axel Krieger, Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins University
Host: Department of Computer Science

Robotic assisted surgery (RAS) systems, incorporate highly dexterous tools, hand tremor filtering, and motion scaling to enable a minimally invasive surgical approach, reducing collateral damage and patient recovery times. However, current state-of-the-art telerobotic surgery requires a surgeon operating every motion of the robot, resulting in long procedure times and inconsistent results. The advantages of autonomous robotic functionality have been demonstrated in applications outside of medicine, such as manufacturing and aviation. A limited form of autonomous RAS with pre-planned functionality was introduced in orthopedic procedures, radiotherapy, and cochlear implants. Efforts in automating soft tissue surgeries have been limited so far to elemental tasks such as knot tying, needle insertion, and executing predefined motions. The fundamental problems in soft tissue surgery include unpredictable shape changes, tissue deformations, and perception challenges.

My research goal is to transform current manual and teleoperated robotic soft tissue surgery to autonomous robotic surgery, improving patient outcomes by reducing the reliance on the operating surgeon, eliminating human errors, and increasing precision and speed. This presentation will introduce our Intelligent Medical Robotic Systems and Equipment (IMERSE) lab and discuss our novel strategies to overcome the challenges encountered in soft tissue autonomous surgery. Presentation topics will include: a) a robotic system for supervised autonomous laparoscopic anastomosis, b) magnetically steered robotic suturing, c) development of patient specific biodegradable nanofiber tissue-engineered vascular grafts to optimally repair congenital heart defects (CHD), and d) our work on COVID-19 mitigation in ICU robotics, safe testing, and safe intubation.

Speaker Biography

Axel Krieger, PhD, and his IMERSE team joined LCSR in July 2020. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. He is leading a team of students, scientists, and engineers in the research and development of robotic tools and laparoscopic devices. Projects include the development of a surgical robot called smart tissue autonomous robot (STAR) and the use of 3D printing for surgical planning and patient specific implants. Professor Krieger is an inventor of over twenty patents and patent applications. Licensees of his patents include medical device start-ups Activ Surgical and PeriCor as well as industry leaders such as Siemens, Philips, and Intuitive Surgical. Before joining the Johns Hopkins University, Professor Axel Krieger was Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland and Assistant Research Professor and Program Lead for Smart Tools at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National. He has several years of experience in private industry at Sentinelle Medical Inc and Hologic Inc. His role within these organizations was Product Leader developing