Autonomous multilateral debridement with the Raven surgical robot

Ben Kehoe, Gregory Kahn, Jeffrey Mahler, Jonathan Kim, Alex Lee, Anna Lee, Keisuke Nakagawa, Sachin Patil, Walter D Boyd, Pieter Abbeel, Ken Goldberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

82 Scopus citations


Autonomous robot execution of surgical sub-tasks has the potential to reduce surgeon fatigue and facilitate supervised tele-surgery. This paper considers the sub-task of surgical debridement: removing dead or damaged tissue fragments to allow the remaining healthy tissue to heal. We present an autonomous multilateral surgical debridement system using the Raven, an open-architecture surgical robot with two cable-driven 7 DOF arms. Our system combines stereo vision for 3D perception with trajopt, an optimization-based motion planner, and model predictive control (MPC). Laboratory experiments involving sensing, grasping, and removal of 120 fragments suggest that an autonomous surgical robot can achieve robustness comparable to human performance. Our robot system demonstrated the advantage of multilateral systems, as the autonomous execution was 1.5× faster with two arms than with one; however, it was two to three times slower than a human. Execution speed could be improved with better state estimation that would allow more travel between MPC steps and fewer MPC replanning cycles. The three primary contributions of this paper are: (1) introducing debridement as a sub-task of interest for surgical robotics, (2) demonstrating the first reliable autonomous robot performance of a surgical sub-task using the Raven, and (3) reporting experiments that highlight the importance of accurate state estimation for future research. Further information including code, photos, and video is available at:

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Sep 22 2014
Event2014 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2014 - Hong Kong, China
Duration: May 31 2014Jun 7 2014


Other2014 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2014
CityHong Kong

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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