Company that develops and sells medical equipment.

We started research and development (R&D) of surgical robot in 2003. The surgical robots have been actively studied since the 1990s and some robots have already been in practical use at the time. It is difficult for us to start cutting-edge research on the robots. However, a surgeon at Tokyo Medical and Dental University, who had been attending our research meeting, said that although the performance of the commercialized robot is admirably, the operation of the robot relied totally on visual information and haptic perception is missing.

We felt that haptic feedback is necessary to improve the safety of the surgical robots.

Our specialty is research on fluid measurement and control. We have worked on the developments of pneumatically-driven systems. Pneumatic drives are often thought to be not suitable for precise control applications. However, we have knowledges and technologies to overcome the problem. Pneumatically-driven systems have many advantages such as soft, back-drivable, suitable for small and lightweight robots. Most of the commercialized robots at the time were driven by electronic motors. We considered that the use of a pneumatic actuation to the surgical robot could provide haptics using the back-drivability of the actuator. Recently, R&D of soft robots is active because they are suitable for cooperative work with humans.

Therefore, we believe that our control technology of the pneumatic drive systems becomes more important.

Visit website: Riverfield Surgical Robot Laboratory