The development of robotic-assisted extracorporeal ultrasound systems has a long history and a number of projects have been proposed since the 1990s focusing on different technical aspects. These aim to resolve the deficiencies of on-site manual manipulation of hand-held ultrasound probes. This paper presents the recent ongoing developments of a series of bespoke robotic systems, including both single-arm and dual-arm versions, for a project known as intelligent Fetal Imaging and Diagnosis (iFIND). After a brief review of the development history of the extracorporeal ultrasound robotic system used for fetal and abdominal examinations, the specific aim of the iFIND robots, the design evolution, the implementation details of each version, and the initial clinical feedback of the iFIND robot series are presented. Based on the preliminary testing of these newly-proposed robots on 42 volunteers, the successful and reliable working of the mechatronic systems were validated. Analysis of a participant questionnaire indicates a comfortable scanning experience for the volunteers and a good acceptance rate to being scanned by the robots.
|Title of host publication||Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems - 20th Annual Conference, TAROS 2019, Proceedings|
|Editors||Kaspar Althoefer, Jelizaveta Konstantinova, Ketao Zhang|
|Number of pages||12|
|Publication status||Published - 2019|
|Event||20th Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems Conference, TAROS 2019 - London, United Kingdom|
Duration: 3 Jul 2019 → 5 Jul 2019
|Name||Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)|
|Conference||20th Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems Conference, TAROS 2019|
|Period||3/07/19 → 5/07/19|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Welcome Trust IEH Award  and by the Wellcome/EPSRC Centre for Medical Engineering [WT203148/Z/16/Z]. The authors acknowledge financial support from the Department of Health via the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre award to Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with King's College London and King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Acknowledgements. This work was supported by the Welcome Trust IEH Award  and by the Wellcome/EPSRC Centre for Medical Engineering [WT203148/Z/16/Z]. The authors acknowledge financial support from the Department of Health via the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre award to Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with King’s College London and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Originally introduced by Gourdon et al.  and Arbeille et al. , a cage-like probe holder containing a robotic wrist was designed for abdominal examination. The configuration of this robot is unique as it does not include any translational axes, and was instead held in position manually at the region of scanning. The wrist incorporated three rotational axes with a unique remote-centre-of-motion mechanism, allowing a remote ultrasound expert to orient the probe locally. Supported by the European Space Agency (ESA), the projects TERESA  and ESTELE  have largely tested the proposed robot on transabdominal obstetrical and abdominal examinations for remote diagnosis. The OTELO project, developed by multiple partners within the European Union, utilized similar rotational mechanisms from the previous ESA-funded projects but added additional active translational axes to the design. The emphasis was on light weight and portability when used for general ultrasound examination [13, 14]. The research with this 6-DOF robot included a wide range of topics, such as teleoperation, kinematics, automatic control laws, and ergonomic control.
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