Available master thesis

Thesis Motion retargeting for human-humanoid collaboration
Supervisors Serena Ivaldi; Karim Bouyarmane
Collaborations LARSEN, Inria, Nancy, France

Masterthesis2
Description The objective of this master thesis is to devise motion retargeting strategies for collaborative tasks involving a human operator and a humanoid robot. The human operator will be equipped with inertial and force sensors (XSens suit, shoes with force sensors) and the robot will use the motion capture data in real-time to perform its own part of the movement by imitating the human movement and readapting it to its own geometry, kinematics, and dynamics. A possible solution will be to apply the multi-robot whole-body control paradigm (Vaillant et al, 2016, Bouyarmane et al 2017) where a rigid-body dynamics model of the human and of the manipulated object will be available for the robot.  The robot can also use a database of the collaborative task performed by two humans, which will provide him with specific domain knowledge regarding the task to execute. The main scientific challenge will be to adapt the muti-robot whole-body controller to the situation in which the motion of one of the robot of the system is an input (constraint) rather than an output (command) of the controller, but till using the full coupled model of the multi-robot system {robot,human,object} to compute the motion of the robot.
The internship will take place within the context of the European project H2020 AnDy, in the team LARSEN of Inria Nancy / Loria, under the supervision of Serena Ivaldi and Karim Bouyarmane.Candidates should be enrolled in Master studies in Robotics, Computer Science or related field. Mathematical background, solid background in robotics, control and familiarity with C/C++ are required.

The prospective candidate shall send his/her CV, list of exams and marks, and motivation letter to both supervisors: serena.ivaldi@inria.fr, karim.bouyarmane@loria.fr

Thesis Neuro-Ergonomy and Computational Model of Minimally Invasive Surgery Training
Supervisors Marc Garbey; Pr. Ahmet Omurtag
Collaborations The Houston Methodist Research Institute and Department of SurgeryUniversity of Houston

masterthesis
Description  

Implementation of laparoscopic surgery has had a significant impact on surgical outcomes, mainly by increasing the speed of postoperative recovery and subsequent discharge from the hospital. As a minimally invasive procedure, however, it does require a great deal of surgical skill. The surgeons must, therefore, undergo skills and procedure-specific training to obtain the level of proficiency that allows them to safely operate. To achieve this “the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery” (FLS) have been developed. These encompass several deconstructed surgical tasks which need to be completed within the allotted time span and without any mistakes for the trainee to be considered proficient. Time and quality of the completed product are therefore measures of proficiency. Significant research efforts have been made to identify other possible measures of proficiency not only to be able to assess it but mainly to be able to measure the ongoing progress of the trainee throughout their practice sessions.

For further information, please contact Pr Marc Garbey, garbeymarc@gmail.com and refer to this document.
Support: the internship will be eligible for a support of $1400 per month for the duration of the six month internship,

Thesis Clinically compatible actuation of biocompatible thermoresponsive microgrippers
Supervisors Federico FrancoElena De Momi
Collaborations University of Twente, The Netherlands

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Description Magnetically and thermally responsive micro-sized grippers have the potential to revolutionize the world of minimally invasive surgery. Their applicability in in-vivo biopsies has already been demonstrated [1]. Moreover, recent studies demonstrated their capability to supersede human performance in terms of dexterity, precision and repeatability [2]. However, presently conduction is used for their thermal actuation. For reasons of clinical safety, contact-less means of heat transmission should be used.

Project: In this assignment you will characterize and model the thermal behavior of micro-agents in response to the heating field. Master students will also have to implement and experimentally validate the developed model conducting in-vitro experiments.

Thesis Evalaution of tracking algorithms for haptic feedback rendering techniques appled to micro-sized agents
Supervisors Dr. Stefano ScheggiElena De Momi
Collaborations University of Twente, The Netherlands
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Description Haptic force feedback is widely considered to be a valuable navigation tool in robotic teleoperation. It is in charge of providing the human operator with information about the forces exerted at the slave side of the system. When teleoperating a micro-agent, a tracking algorithm is in charge of detecting the position of the controlled agent at run time. The haptic interface should then provide force feedback about the interaction between the microagent and the remote environment, enabling the user to complete the considered task in a faster and more accurate way. However, uncertainties in the tracking algorithm can significantly affect the applicability of the haptic feedback.

Project: In this project, it is necessary to investigate the requirements of a tracking algorithm to be safely used together with a haptic interface.

Thesis Teleoperated needle steering
Supervisors Dr. Pedro MoreiraElena De Momi
Collaborations University of Twente, The Netherlands
twentep7
Description Needle insertion into soft-tissue is a minimally invasive procedure used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Flexible needles were introduced to provide enhanced steering capabilities, allowing the needle to avoid obstacles and accurately reach the target position. Flexible needles fabricated with an asymmetric tip naturally deflect during insertion into soft-tissue. This deflection can be used to steer the needle tip towards a desired location. Our group has been investigating robotized flexible needle steering. However, fully autonomous insertions performed by medical robotic systems are still not totally accepted by the medical community due to safety reasons. Shared controlled flexible needle steering, where the surgeon and the robot control the needle steering in a collaborative manner, is a solution to increase the overall safety of the system while achieving a high accuracy. A promising shared control architecture can be achieved by letting the surgeon control the insertion depth via a haptic device, while the robotic system control the needle rotations required to reach the target. The haptic feedback can also help the surgeon to fell the different tissue layers crossed by the needle.

Project: Different shared control approaches can be used to steer the needle in a collaborative way. The goal of this project is to implement a shared control with a surgeon controlling the insertion velocity via a haptic device. The virtual stiffness felt by the surgeon can vary depending on the tissue elasticity. The elasticity of the different tissue layers and the target region can be defined by a proper pre-operative planning and using non-invasive techniques to measure the tissue elasticity. The system can be evaluated by comparing the targeting accuracy using the haptic feedback with variable virtual stiffness, with constant stiffness and using the fully autonomous system. The system should be tested preferably by subjects with biomedical background.

Thesis Magnetic actuation for steerable catheter
Supervisors Dr. Pedro MoreiraElena De Momi
Collaborations University of Twente, The Netherlands
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Description Endovascular Aortic Repair (EVAR) is the most common technique to repair abdominal aortic aneurysm. The procedure consists in placing an expandable stent graft within the aorta using a catheter. Stent grafts are typically inserted in a minimally invasive manner via the arteries in the groin using X-ray guidance to position them accurately. Magnetic resonance (MR) images have major advantages over the conventional X-ray image guidance, such as true three-dimensional images without ionizing radiation and the use of MR techniques to visualize the vascular tree without nephrotoxic contrast agents. However, the promise of endovascular MR image-guided procedures remains unrealized in part because of the lack of MR-compatible steerable. Therefore, an MR-compatible catheter will assist the surgeon to precisely perform complex task, such as work over steep angles and catheterization of the internal iliac artery, with a reduced surgical procedure time and without radiation delivered to the patient.

Project: Different actuation approaches can be used to steer the catheter inside the MR bore, such as the mechanics-based approach used in tendon-driven catheter and a magnetic based approach. The goal of this project is to conduct a feasibility study on magnetic-based catheter steering inside the MR scanner. The magnetic-based actuation will be accomplished by placing miniaturized coils or small magnets at the tip of the catheter. The prototype will be tested by performing preliminary experiments in the lab and inside the MR bore.

Thesis Patient-specific biomechanical models using ultrasound elastgrams
Supervisors Dr. Pedro MoreiraElena De Momi
Collaborations University of Twente, The Netherlands
twentep5
Description Needle insertion in soft tissues is a common step in many minimally invasive medical procedures. Clinical needle-based interventions are used in therapeutic and diagnostic procedures, including biopsy, brachytherapy, and neurosurgery. Most of clinical needles have an asymmetric tip to cut and penetrate the tissue. However, misplacement of the needle tip might occur due to the interactions between the needle tip and the soft tissue. Therefore it is important to predict the needle tip deviation in order to reduce the targeting error. Recent works have shown that tissue’s elasticity direct influences the amount of needle deviation. Several noninvasive techniques can be used to estimate the elasticity of the tissue, such as the Acoustic Radiation Force Impulse (ARFI) imaging technique. The information acquired with such techniques can be used in an accurate biomechanical model to predict the needle deviation in pre- and intra-operative planning.

Project: The aim of this project is use the ultrasound probe position device available in the Surgical Robotics Lab. to scan the tissue while acquiring qualitative ARFI ultrasound images. These images should be analyzed using an image processing algorithm to determine the elasticity values in each part of the tissue. A three-dimensional biomechanical tissue model should be created using the elasticity values and used in needle insertion planning.

Thesis Development of a coaxial flexible needle
Supervisors Dr. Pedro MoreiraElena De Momi
Collaborations University of Twente, The Netherlands


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Description Clinical needle-based interventions are used in therapeutic and diagnostic procedures such as biopsy and brachytherapy. Thin and flexible needles were introduced in order to improve the steerability of those procedures. Such needles can be used to steer around sensitive and hard tissue such as blood vessels and bones. The advantage of using flexible needles has been demonstrated in several previous publications, where targeting errors of less than 1mm where achieve even when obstacles were placed between the entry point and the target location. Although, clinical applications for such needles are still limited due to technical and clinical aspects. Currently, the studies on flexible needle steering use a solid wire made of Nitinol as a needle. Therefore, it is important to develop clinically relevant flexible needles, such as a biopsy needle or a drug delivery needle, in order to validate the use of flexible needles in a clinical scenario.

Project: The aim of this project is to develop a Nitinol coaxial needle to be steered by our robotic system. Conventional drug delivery needles are usually composed by an outer cylinder with an inner core. When the needle tip reaches the target, the inner core is removed and the drug in injected. The coaxial needle developed in this project has to be compatible with the robotic insertion device used to steer flexible needles. The main tasks of this project are to design the coaxial needle and the mechatronic system needed to adapt this needle to the robotic insertion device. The project can be extended to develop a firing system to use the coaxial needle to collect tissue samples.

Thesis Flexible needle simulation using Simulation Open Frameowrk Architecture (SOFA)
Supervisors Dr. Pedro MoreiraElena De Momi
Collaborations University of Twente, The Netherlands

twentep3
Description Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men. Needle insertion procedures are commonly used to treat and to diagnose prostate cancer. Prostate interventions using magnetic resonance images (MRI) benefits from the high tissue contrast provided by the MRI, but the lack of real time images is an issue for MRI-guided closed loop needle steering. A Biomechanical model of the pelvic region can be used in pre- and intra-operative planning to predict the prostate deformation and the needle deflection to be used as a control input for robotic systems designed to steer flexible needles. Biomechanical models based on Finite Element Methods offer a good accuracy but the required computational time limits its application in real time. Currently, Simulation Open Framework Architecture (SOFA) provides an environment for real time modelling and simulation of soft tissues based on FE analysis.

Project: The aim of this project is to develop a real time biomechanical model of the male pelvic region using the SOFA framework. Pre-operative MR images of the pelvic region will be used to create an anatomic accurate model. This model will be used as a control input for the robotic system that is being developed within the MIRIAM project. The SOFA model will provide the needle tip position feedback when an MR image is not available.

Thesis Preoperative planning for MR-guided needle steering
Supervisors Dr. Pedro MoreiraElena De Momi
Collaborations University of Twente, The Netherlands

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Description Magnetic Resonance (MR)-guided needle steering offers several advantages over the traditional ultrasound-guided interventions. MR images offers a high soft tissue contrast, where an early stage tissue lesion is visible. However, the clinical use of a fully autonomous MR-guided needle steering is still not accomplished due to aspects such as MR-compatibility, low frequency rate of MR images and autonomous MR-based needle tracking. Recently, a feasibility study of MR-guided flexible bevel-tipped needle steering has been performed in gelatin phantoms. Flexible bevel-tipped needles deflects when inserted into the tissue and can be steer towards the target by applying needle rotation along its own axis. The results achieved so far show that targeting accuracy may vary according to the target location. This happens because depending on the needle entry point and orientation, the target might be unreachable. Therefore, a pre-operative planning to define the best entry point is important to reduce the targeting error and guarantee the success of the procedure.

Project: The aim of this research is to develop a pre-operative planner in order to improve the MR-guided needle steering by choosing the best insertion location and orientation. The needle entry point will be selected based on a planned needle path and according to criteria such as shortest path, distance from obstacles or number of needle rotations. The needle path can be planned using the needle-tissue interaction model. This project will extend the previous work on MR-guided flexible needle steering by developing a pre-operative insertion planning and performing experiments in biological tissues. The experiments will be performed using the new MR-compatible robot that is being developed in the MIRIAM project.

Thesis Design and Control of a robotically actuated catheter
Supervisors Gustaaf Vrooijink, Elena De Momi
Collaborations University of Twente, The Netherlands
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Description Recent technological advancements have significantly improved treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Traditionally, open surgery via sternotomy is performed to gain surgical access to the heart, while a heart-lung machine provides life support. Accessibility is considered to be a major advantage of this procedure, which is at the expense of patient trauma. As an alternative, minimal invasive surgery (MIS) could reduce trauma and enable treatment to high-risk patients who were initially denied surgery. However, limited access, vision and control of the instrument at the treatment location impede the performance of MIS. The clinician often has limited and non-intuitive control over the tip of the instrument by manipulating its base, which is outside the body. Integration of robotically-controlled flexible instruments has the potential to assist the clinician during surgery.

Project: The assignment consists of two parts: The first part is to design and integrate a flexible catheter in an experimental setup. In the second part, a controller is designed and the performance of catheter system is evaluated. The goal of the first part is to develop a catheter system that uses either a combination of user defined catheter materials or an already existing prototype designed by Deam Corporation B.V. The flexible catheter should be actuated by two actuators to enable articulating tip movement in two degrees-of-freedom.

Electro-Magnetic (EM) tracker sensors must be integrated in the catheter tip and base to provide feedback for control. The design must be able to maneuver through complex tubing systems in order to simulate insertion into arteries and veins. Further, the configuration of the flexible shaft of the catheter should not affect the articulating tip motion during insertion. In the final part of the assignment, a feedback-controller using EM-tracking data should be designed in order to provide intuitive catheter tip movement by considering input form the clinician. Note that EM tracking-related activities is provided by the supervisors. Finally, the integrated catheter system must be experimentally evaluated to demonstrate potential in existing and future medical applications.

Thesis Automatic trajectory planning for SEEG
Supervisors Elena De Momi
Co-Supervisors Davide Scorza
Collaborations Centro per l’epilessia Claudio Munari, Niguarda
Vicomtech, Spain
thesis7
Description
  • Aim:

To design and implement an automatic planner for keyhole neurosurgery

  • Project phases:

-Design and implement the plan
-Collect dataset and implement a database
-Validate the methodology on patient images

Thesis Vessel (veins and arteries) reconstruction from CBCT
Supervisors Elena De Momi
Co-Supervisors Sara El Hadji
Collaborations Centro per l’epilessia Claudio Munari, Niguarda
Medtronic USA
thesis6
Description
  • Aim:

To design and implement a system for vessel classification from CBCT images

  • Project phases:

-Model contrast medium diffusion in brain vessels
-Implement fast computational techniques
-Validate the methodology on patient images

Thesis Brain magnetic stimulation
Supervisors Elena De Momi
Collaborations Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Dipartimento di Fisica, POLIMI
Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta
thesis5
Description
  • Aim:

To design, implement and test a system for intra-operative brain magnetic stimulation

  • Project phases:

-Model the brain and simulate neurons activation using magnetic fields
-Design and implement the device
-Perform tests in lab and in vitro conditions

Thesis Motor learning during surgical tasks
Supervisors Elena De Momi
Collaborations Northeastern University, Boston, USA
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA
Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta
thesis4
Description
  • Aim:

To understand the motor control mechanisms involved in tremor compensation under microscope magnification in surgery

  • Project phases:

-Design an experimental protocol for task acquisition
-Develop models of motor learning
-Validate models using experimental data

Thesis Redundancy management in teleoperation for surgical applications
Supervisors Elena De Momi
Co-supervisors Hang Su
Collaborations Neuroengineering and Medical Robotics Lab
thesis3
Description
  • Aim:

To improve the robot control during tele-operation increasing the patient safety

  • Project phases:

-Robot redundancy management criteria
-Integration of optimization criteria in the controller
-Testing and validation using the Nearlab suite

Thesis New design of haptic interfaces in minimally invasive surgery
Supervisors Elena De Momi
Co-supervisors Jacopo Buzzi
Collaborations Italian Institute of Technology, Genova, Italy

Ben Gurion University, Ber Sheva, Israel

thesis2
Description
  • Aim:

To improve the human efficacy gesture during tele-operated surgical tasks

  • Project phases:

-Set-up preparation (virtual task, kinematics and EMG acquisitions)
-Simulation environment (muscular efficiency estimation)
-Interface design implementation and prototype realization
-New interface testing

Thesis Steerable needle path planning
Supervisors Elena De Momi
Co-supervisors Alberto Favaro
Collaborations Istituto Clinico Humanitas, Rozzano, Milan, Italy
Imperial College of London, London, UK
thesis1
Description
  • Aim:

To plan the optimal trajectory of drug delivery steerable needles in order to treat high grade gliomas

  • Project phases:

-Develop a model of the brain
-Implement path optimality criteria
-Implement kinematic control on the needle
-Perform validation tests on sheep models

Thesis Magnetic stimulation of brain cortex
Supervisors Elena De Momi, Giancarlo Ferrigno
Collaborations Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta
Magnetic_stimulation_of_brain_cortex
Description The project is aimed at developing an innovative brain cortex stimulation magnetic device in order to map brain functions during awake neurosurgery. The magnetic stimulation will overcome the state of the art being able to modulate the intensity of the stimulation and to focus the stimulated areas, more than what is currently achieved using direct current stimulation.
Thesis Innovative human robot interaction methods for surgical application
Supervisors Elena De Momi
Collaborations Interact Lab of the University of Sussex
 

Novel_interface_based_ultrasound_waves

UltraHaptics

Description The project is aimed at developing new master interfaces in order to improve the teleoperation during human robot interaction. The work will study the ergonomics of tele-operated surgical tasks and will implement the possibility of manoeuvring remote tasks without grounded haptic devices.
Thesis Haptic feedback system for body-powered prostheses
Collaborations University College London, United Kingdom
UCLLogo
Description The haptic feedback system will be made of sensor on the one side and a wearable haptic sleeve on the other side. The sensors should be hydraulically activated made of soft silicone and rubber materials.
Thesis Stiffness/position control of a serial stiffness-controllable robot
Collaborations University College London, United Kingdom
UCLLogo
Description In the lab, there is a prototype of a serial robot made of 2 stiffness controllable links with 3DoF. Air pressure will result in stiffness variation of the links. The proposed work concerns the robot’s kinematics (based on the beam model) and stiffness matrix of each link and the entire robot.
Thesis Stiffness measurement of soft tissue
Collaborations University College London, United Kingdom
UCLLogo
Description Whiskers are a type of hair that are typically specialised for tactile sensing. Within this work, the student should explore how whiskers can be used in combination with basic image processing and a position sensor to estimate soft tissue stiffness.

 

Thesis Haptic feedback system for body-powered prostheses
Collaborations Centre for Robotics Research (CoRe), King’s College, London 
Supervisor Helge Wurdemann
Project 1 - Haptics for low-cost prosthesis
Description This haptic feedback system will be made of sensor on the one side and a wearable haptic sleeve on the other side. The sensors should be hydraulically activated made of soft silicone and rubber materials.

 

Thesis Stiffness/position control of a serial stiffness-controllable robot
Collaborations Centre for Robotics Research (CoRe), King’s College, London 
Supervisor Helge Wurdemann
Project 2 - Control of a soft robot
Description In the lab, there is a prototype of a serial robot made of 2 stiffness controllable links with 3DoF. Air pressure will result in stiffness variation of the links. The proposed work concerns the robot’s kinematics (based on the beam model) and stiffness matrix of each link and the entire robot.

 

Thesis Stiffness measurement of soft tissue
Collaborations Centre for Robotics Research (CoRe), King’s College, London 
Supervisor Helge Wurdemann
Project 2 - Stiffness measurement using whiskers
Description Whiskers are a type of hair that are typically specialised for tactile sensing. Within this work, the student should explore how whiskers can be used in combination with basic image processing and a position sensor to estimate soft tissue stiffness.

 

Thesis Development of a vascular phantom for aortic dissection treatment
Collaborations Centre for Robotics Research (CoRe), King’s College, London 
Supervisor Helge Wurdemann
Project 4 - Development of a vascular phantom
Description The challenge here is to build a phantom test rig based on the stiffness of the vascular system that will be treated. A endovascular stent can then be inserted by putting a folded graft in the blood vessel. The stent is threaded up to the damaged part of the aorta. Then it is unfolded. Blood now flows through the graft. In the test rig, the stent can then be inserted and the blood flow observed with the stent in place.