MRC Seminar: Soft Material Robotics and Next-Generation Surgical Robots

Friday, October 20, 2023
2:00 p.m.
JMP 2116

Soft Material Robotics and Next-Generation Surgical Robots

Streaming Link

Sheila Russo
Assistant Professor
Boston University


Minimally invasive surgical (MIS) procedures pose significant challenges for robots, which need to safely navigate through and manipulate delicate anatomy while performing complex tasks to treat tumors in remote areas. Soft robots hold considerable potential in MIS given their compliant nature, inherent safety, and high dexterity. Yet, a significant breakthrough of soft robots in surgery is impeded by current limitations in the design, manufacturing, and integration of soft materials that combine actuation, sensing, and control. Scientific understanding of medical and surgical robotics is entering an exciting new era where early approaches relying on rigid materials, standard manufacturing, and conventional kinematics are giving way to Soft Material Robotics. Our research at the Material Robotics Lab at Boston University is focused on the design, mechanics, and manufacturing of novel multi-scale and multi-material biomedical robotic systems. This talk will illustrate our work towards achieving safe navigation, distal actuation, integrated sensing, and effective force transmission in MIS by highlighting different classes of soft surgical robots, i.e., soft continuum robots, soft- foldable robots, and soft reactive skins with applications in lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and brain cancer surgery.


Sheila Russo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Division of Materials Science and Engineering at Boston University (BU). She received her Ph.D. degree at the BioRobotics Institute, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Italy. She completed her postdoctoral training at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. She is the founder and director of the Material Robotics Laboratory at BU. Her research interests include medical and surgical robotics, soft robotics, origami-inspired mechanisms, sensing and actuation, and meso- and micro-scale manufacturing techniques. In 2020 she received the NIH Trailblazer Award for New and Early Stage Investigators.

Host: Ryan Sochol

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