Back to search

BIA-Brukerstyrt innovasjonsarena

Robotic Handling of Reusable Surgical Equipment

Alternative title: Robotisert Håndtering av Kirurgisk Gjenbruks Utstyr

Awarded: NOK 8.6 mill.

Robotic handling is about automating and streamlining processes in hospitals related to washing, sterilizing, inspecting and preparing surgical equipment. These are resource-intensive manual tasks that require highly skilled personnel. The purpose of "RobotHands" is to help hospitals in meeting challenges that will arise, like a shortage of health personnel in the years to come. We want to free up more warm healthcare hands for patients so that collaborative robots can assist in the more repetitive and standardized processes. "Robot hands" will build on our developed solution "Scanner ID" for the identification and tracking of reusable surgical equipment, without the need for it to be physically marked. This means that we have information down to a detailed level about each individual piece of equipment, which then enables us to connect robotic handling. The project is divided into work packages and milestones to ensure the quality of the process, which is about classifying, grasping, handling and uniquely identifying reusable surgical equipment. We have involved both future customers, research and educational institutions and partners within technology and design for this project. According to our literature research, there are no good robotic solutions on the market that can handle surgical equipment at this time. The solutions with magnetization break with the majority of surgical equipment that has a non-magnetic design. In the project, we will then investigate alternative solutions to enable handling of all the equipment, regardless if they are magnetic or not. The results of this project will be important in order to develop a full-scale robotic solution that is suitable for handling surgical equipment, which often are small and can be difficult to grasp for larger robots.

The RobotHandleS project is based on an explicit expressed motivation from the health trust partners to automate the handling of RSEs in hospitals, and builds on an existing "Innovasjonspartnerskap" with Helse Bergen, "the Scanner ID", developing a novel scanning technology to uniquely identify clean and ordered RSEs. Our literature and industry research, as well as the healthcare partners’ conclusion in the process of awarding the “innovasjonspartnerskap”, strongly indicates that there is currently no commercial system that offers an integrated AI robotic solution for automatic identification and handling of RSEs. RobotHandleS will improve the "Scanner ID" solution by being able to classify, grasp, handle and uniquely identify RSEs by using 3D AI robot solutions. Classifying clean and ordered RSEs on a flat surface is already possible through the "Scanner ID", but RobotHandleS ambition of classifying all RSEs requires more research into how to classify highly reflective (and flexible) RSEs in a cluttered bin (3D). Grasping using magnetization only works on a subset of RSEs, and violates the non-magnetic design of RSEs. RobotHandleS ambition to develop technology that can robustly grasp all types of RSEs requires more research into how grasping RSEs without magnetizing items. Handling (including stacking) is a mature field in robotics, but RobotHandleS' aim make RSEs ready for unique identification requires more research into how to pre-clean and dry RSEs. RobotHandleS will develop an integrated AI robotic solution to solve the above. However, new research is required to develop functionality and new interfaces between components, and to develop a dedicated framework for system integration.

Funding scheme:

BIA-Brukerstyrt innovasjonsarena