Designing Next-Generation Surgical Robots with Advanced Motion Engineering

What if you could design and build a surgical robot that helps doctors perform less invasive, more precise operations, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes? While the results of any surgery depend on the specific case and the surgeon's skill, better tools undoubtedly support better care. Next-generation motion engineering plays a crucial role in developing the next generation of surgical robots.

Conventional surgical robots feature large columns with multiple arms holding a tiny camera and various instruments such as scissors, graspers, and needle holders. The ideal approach for the camera and instruments into the incision site is as parallel and close together as possible. However, the single-column, multiple-arm design of conventional surgical robots and the bulk of their arm joints limit the angle of approach when multiple instruments are deployed.

Standalone arms provide much greater flexibility in positioning compared to the conventional design, allowing multiple arms to be aligned in a plane much closer to parallel. To further approach the parallel ideal, the bulk of each arm must be minimized. High-torque motors with short stack lengths are key to achieving optimum torque while minimizing axial length, total volume, and weight.

Strain wave gearing, also known as "harmonic" gearing, provides three indispensable advantages in surgical robot design:

  1. It enables the most compact axial integration within the joint.
  2. It offers relatively high gear ratios for smooth acceleration/deceleration and precise positioning of loads.
  3. It operates with zero backlash to minimize unwanted movement and potential procedure imprecision or trauma.

When specifying the appropriate gear technology and ratio, you can select a motor based on the gear ratio, the speed at which the arm must run, and the mass it needs to hold. The D2L rule allows you to trade off a larger diameter for a significantly reduced axial length, enabling robotic arms to operate as closely together as possible.

For next-generation surgical robot performance, choose next-generation motors specially designed for robotic applications. This will help you accelerate your development time and deliver surgical robots that allow doctors to operate instruments as close together and as close to parallel as possible, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes and a healthier surgical robotics business.

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