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STIFFness controllable Flexible and Learn-able manipulator for surgical OPerations (STIFF-FLOP)
Start date: Jan 1, 2012, End date: Dec 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Description Design and fabrication of a soft robotic arm that can reconfigure itself and stiffen by hydrostatic actuation In Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS), tools go through narrow openings and manipulate soft organs that can move, deform, or change stiffness. Currently, there are limitations on robot-assisted surgical systems. STIFF-FLOP will design, build and operate an innovative soft robotic arm that can squeeze through a standard MIS port, reconfigure itself and stiffen by hydrostatic actuation to perform compliant force control tasks while facing unexpected situations. The project will address the complete system: the design and fabrication of the soft manipulator, distributed sensing, biologically inspired actuation and control architectures, learning and developing cognition through interaction with a human instructor, and manipulating soft objects in complex and uncertain environments. The soft arm will be tested in a minimally invasive robotic surgery application to demonstrate its feasibility.
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