Magnetic Hammer Actuation for Tissue Penetration using a Millirobot



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IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters


Untethered magnetic navigation of millirobots within a human body using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner is a promising technology for minimally invasive surgery or drug delivery. Because MRI scanners have a large static magnetic field, they cannot generate torque on magnetic millirobots and must instead use gradient-based pulling. However, gradient values are too small to produce forces large enough to penetrate tissue. This letter presents a method to produce large pulsed forces on millirobots. A ferromagnetic sphere is placed inside a hollow robot body and can move back and forth. This movement is created by alternating the magnetic gradient direction. On the posterior side, a spring allows the sphere to change direction smoothly. On the anterior side, a hard rod creates a surface for the sphere to impact. This impact results in a large pulsed force. The purpose of this study was to understand the functioning of magnetic hammer actuation and control, as well as demonstrate the viability of this mechanism for tissue penetration. This letter begins with modeling and simulating this system. Next, different control strategies are presented and tested. The system successfully penetrated lamb brain samples. Finally, preliminary tests inside a clinical MRI scanner demonstrate the potential of this actuation system.



Magnetic resonance imaging, Springs, Mathematical model, Magnetic separation, Robots, Force, Coils, Mechanism design, Medical robots and systems, Surgical robotics: Steerable catheters/needles


Copyright 2017 IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters. This is a post-print version of a published paper that is available at: Recommended citation: Leclerc, Julien, Ashwin Ramakrishnan, Nikolaos V. Tsekos, and Aaron T. Becker. "Magnetic hammer actuation for tissue penetration using a millirobot." IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters 3, no. 1 (2017): 403-410. DOI: 10.1109/LRA.2017.2739805 This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.