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Flexible, shape-keeping, manipulator probe for biomedical assessments

hand toolmanipulatorProbeRobotics


The need for deployable structures, able to follow curvilinear trajectories are in vast demand, especially in the biomedical field. Upgrading current probe designs, into those able to follow curved trajectories inside the human body, or in the field of contactless inspections, can be game changing especially during endoscopic or surgical applications. Various probes exist that address the challenges of the more rigid models; however, these are still limited when it comes to probe flexibility and accuracy.

Technical features

Presented, is a shape-keeping, deployable, follow-the-leader probe, which includes a pair of robotic systems of the continuum type. The probe has been designed in a way that the motion and trajectory of the entire probe are defined by the lead-end of the probe (head). The structure is devoid of articulations enabling it to follow curved trajectories with great accuracy, which partly solve the drawbacks of current contenders. Furthermore, the corresponding forward movement of the robotic system is not necessarily equal to a predefined value, but can be varied in a continuous manner, within a maximum value defined by design. The use of symmetrical configuration, together with the fact that the first and the second robotic system are interlaced, allow for a reduction of the cross-section of the deployable structure. Each robotic system is flexible enough to seamlessly advance, in an alternate fashion, on the other, which in turn is suitably stiffened to guide; the deployed probe can be globally stiffened for operation. Thanks for the forward-thinking design, the probe is customisable to some extent to suit needs.

Possible Applications

  • Biomedical: e.g., surgery and endoscopy;
  • Imagining applications;
  • Contactless inspections (biomedical and non).


  • Able to follow curved trajectories also those with limited radii of curvature;
  • Continuous path-following with the entire tool shaft;
  • Improved control and stiffness modulation.