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CASCADE: Control framework for continuum robots

CASCADE is an EU-funded project in which a unified control framework for continuum robots that can operate in complex and deformable environments (specifically in the cardiovascular system) is developed.

Recent efforts in robotics and automation research have fostered the development of a wide variety of bio-inspired snake-like continuum robots. These robots require radically different controllers and control schemes compared to conventional rigid robots, but continuum control has not received significant attention in the scientific community. Robotic catheters are a particularly challenging specialization of continuum robots because the vascular tree surrounding the catheter is complex, delicate, deformable and highly dynamic. This challenge is further complicated by the limited visibility during the procedure.

CASCADE (Cognitive AutonomouS CAtheter operating in Dynamic Environments) will develop a unified control framework for continuum robots that can operate in complex and deformable environments and specifically in the cardiovascular system. The project will construct general mathematical descriptions of the continuum robot and its surroundings while model parameters will be identified during clinical operation. In cases where fusing pre-operative data with intra-operative sensors does not provide sufficient information to allow reliable decision-making, active sensing techniques will be adopted.

An interface to the supervising surgeon will enable cognitive links between the operator and the continuum robot, facilitating complementary assistance during autonomous execution of surgical tasks. The interface will also be used for learning and robotic training and further for validation of techniques using identified clinical benchmarks. The resulting development will allow the control of local (interaction force / stiffness) and global (shape) robot states at an unprecedented level of detail. The developed skill analysis tools will be used to verify the achievable control performance of continuum robots in catheter procedures. In particular, CASCADE will advance the treatment of cardiovascular diseases by providing a new dexterous and intelligent instrument that is initially focused on endovascular aortic valve replacement.

Project details

Project start: 01.02.2013

Project reference: 601021

  • Programme acronym: FP7-ICT
  • Contract type: Collaborative project (generic)
  • Subprogramme area: ICT-2011.2.1

Project funded by the European Commission

More info is available on the project's website

Media report:

Article in 'Aktuelle Technik' (PDF, 404 KB) (PDF 403,8 KB)

Links to our project partners:

Contact IMS:

Prof. Dr. Hans Wernher van de Venn

Prof. Dr. Hans Wernher van de Venn

ZHAW School of Engineering
Institute of Mechatronic Systems
Technikumstrasse 5
8400 Winterthur

+41 (0) 58 934 77 89
wernher.vandevenn@zhaw.ch