An Active Steering Hand-Held Robotic System for Minimally Invasive Orthopaedic Surgery Using a Continuum Manipulator

Justin H. Ma, Shahriar Sefati, Russell H. Taylor, Mehran Armand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This letter presents the development and experimental evaluation of an active steering hand-held robotic system for milling and curved drilling in minimally invasive orthopaedic interventions. The system comprises a cable-driven continuum dexterous manipulator (CDM), an actuation unit with a handpiece, and a flexible, rotary cutting tool. Compared to conventional rigid drills, the proposed system enhances dexterity and reach in confined spaces in surgery, while providing direct control to the surgeon with sufficient stability while cutting/milling hard tissue. Of note, for cases that require precise motion, the system is able to be mounted on a positioning robot for additional controllability. A proportional-derivative (PD) controller for regulating drive cable tension is proposed for the stable steering of the CDM during cutting operations. The robotic system is characterized and tested with various tool rotational speeds and cable tensions, demonstrating successful cutting of three-dimensional and curvilinear tool paths in simulated cancellous bone and bone phantom. Material removal rates (MRRs) of up to 571 mm3/s are achieved for stable cutting, demonstrating great improvement over previous related works.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9354899
Pages (from-to)1622-1629
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Compliant joints and mechanisms
  • medical robots and systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Control and Optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence


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