Evaluation of contactless human–machine interface for robotic surgical training

  • Fabien DespinoyEmail author
  • Nabil Zemiti
  • Germain Forestier
  • Alonso Sánchez
  • Pierre Jannin
  • Philippe Poignet
Original Article



Teleoperated robotic systems are nowadays routinely used for specific interventions. Benefits of robotic training courses have already been acknowledged by the community since manipulation of such systems requires dedicated training. However, robotic surgical simulators remain expensive and require a dedicated human–machine interface.


We present a low-cost contactless optical sensor, the Leap Motion, as a novel control device to manipulate the RAVEN-II robot. We compare peg manipulations during a training task with a contact-based device, the electro-mechanical Sigma.7. We perform two complementary analyses to quantitatively assess the performance of each control method: a metric-based comparison and a novel unsupervised spatiotemporal trajectory clustering.


We show that contactless control does not offer as good manipulability as the contact-based. Where part of the metric-based evaluation presents the mechanical control better than the contactless one, the unsupervised spatiotemporal trajectory clustering from the surgical tool motions highlights specific signature inferred by the human–machine interfaces.


Even if the current implementation of contactless control does not overtake manipulation with high-standard mechanical interface, we demonstrate that using the optical sensor complete control of the surgical instruments is feasible. The proposed method allows fine tracking of the trainee’s hands in order to execute dexterous laparoscopic training gestures. This work is promising for development of future human–machine interfaces dedicated to robotic surgical training systems.


Contactless teleoperation Hand tracking Human–machine interface Robotic surgical training Unsupervised trajectory analysis 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© CARS 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LTSI-INSERMUniversité de Rennes 1RennesFrance
  2. 2.LIRMM-CNRSUniversité de MontpellierMontpellierFrance
  3. 3.MIPSUniversité de Haute AlsaceMulhouseFrance

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