VerroTouch: High-Frequency Acceleration Feedback for Telerobotic Surgery

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Abstract

The Intuitive da Vinci system enables surgeons to see and manipulate structures deep within the body via tiny incisions. Though the robotic tools mimic one’s hand motions, surgeons cannot feel what the tools are touching, a striking contrast to non-robotic techniques. We have developed a new method for partially restoring this lost sense of touch. Our VerroTouch system measures the vibrations caused by tool contact and immediately recreates them on the master handles for the surgeon to feel. This augmentation enables the surgeon to feel the texture of rough surfaces, the start and end of contact with manipulated objects, and other important tactile events. While it does not provide low frequency forces, we believe vibrotactile feedback will be highly useful for surgical task execution, a hypothesis we we will test in future work.