Force-assisted ultrasound imaging system through dual force sensing and admittance robot control

  • Ting-Yun Fang
  • Haichong K. Zhang
  • Rodolfo Finocchi
  • Russell H. Taylor
  • Emad M. Boctor
Original Article



Ultrasound imaging has been a gold standard for clinical diagnoses due to its unique advantages compared to other imaging modalities including: low cost, noninvasiveness, and safeness to the human body. However, the ultrasound scanning process requires applying a large force over extended periods of time, often in uncomfortable postures in order to maintain the desired orientation. This physical requirement over sonographers’ careers often leads to musculoskeletal pain and strain injuries.


To address this problem, we propose a cooperatively controlled robotic ultrasound system to reduce the force sonographers apply. The proposed system consists of two key components: a six-axis robotic arm that holds and actuates the ultrasound probe, and a dual force sensor setup that enables cooperative control and adaptive force assistance. With the admittance force control, the robotic arm complies with the motion of the operator, while assisting with force during the scanning.


We validated the system through a user study involving expert sonographers and lay people and demonstrated 32–73% reduction in human applied force and 8– 18% improvement in image stability.


These results indicate that the system has the potential to not only reduce the burden on the sonographer, but also provide more stable ultrasound scanning.


Co-robotic ultrasound Force-assisted Dual force sensing Admittance control Cooperative robot control 



This work was funded by Johns Hopkins University internal funds.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All 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. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Additional informed consent to publish was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© CARS 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Laboratory for Computational Sensing and RoboticsJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Department of RadiologyJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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