Graduate Studies


Date of this Version

Summer 8-5-2013


Bartels, J. R. (2013). Development of Distributed Motor Control System and Haptic Feedback Systems for Miniature In Vivo Surgical Robots. MS Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Mechanical Engineering & Applied Mechanics, Under the Supervision of Professor Shane M. Farritor. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Joseph Robert Bartels


The development and adoption of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) in the 1990s was a pivotal advancement in general surgery. These recent developments have allowed surgical procedures to be completed using multiple small incisions rather than a single large incision and have many benefits for the patient including reduced recovery times, lower costs, and more desirable cosmetic results. An appealing type of MIS that has gained popularity in recent years is laparoendoscopic single-site (LESS) surgery. LESS surgical procedures require only one small incision to perform the surgery and have even greater patient benefits than traditional multi-incision MIS. Although these techniques are more beneficial for the patient, the difficulty of the surgical procedures increase as restricted access to the surgical site requires the procedures to be performed with unintuitive tools, reduced dexterity, limited visualization, and minimal tactile feedback. Recent research has worked towards developing miniature surgical robots to help alleviate the complications introduced with these new surgical techniques. Several robot prototypes have been developed that increased the dexterity and intuitiveness of the surgical tools, but more research is needed to reduce the incision size and return the sense of touch to the surgeon.

This thesis presents the development of distributed motor control and haptic feedback systems for miniature in vivo surgical robots. By implementing a distributed motor control system on the robot, the number of cables that need to pass through the incision are decreased from a minimum of twenty to only one. This allows the incision size to be smaller and increases dexterity by reducing the bulk of cables running to the motors of the robot. The addition of a haptic feedback system to the robot returns the sense of touch to the surgeon, allowing them to once again feel the tissues that are being manipulated. Benchtop tests were performed to demonstrate the capabilities of these two systems. Results indicate that the systems are effective in reducing the incision size and returning the sense of touch to the surgeon, but that more work is needed to fully develop the haptic feedback system.

Adviser: Shane Farritor