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ME 328: Medical Robotics


Welcome to ME 328: Medical Robotics! In this class, we will study of the design and control of robots and associated technology for medical applications, with a focus on surgery and interventional radiology. This class is aimed toward graduate students and advanced undergraduates in engineering and computer science; no medical background is required. This class requires a solid background in dynamic systems and MATLAB programming. You'll need to do a little extra studying/work if you do not have experience with C/C++ programming, feedback control design, and linear systems. Attendance is required if you are taking the class; guests/auditors are welcome. Course information and policies are contained in the syllabus. If you are interested in just the seminar portion of this class, register for CS/ME 571.

The instructor is Allison Okamura, Professor in Mechanical Engineering and (by courtesy) Computer Science at Stanford University. Allison has been working in the field of medical robotics and simulation for about 15 years, specializing in haptic feedback in minimally invasive surgery and needle insertion modeling and control for interventional radiology. Seminar organization is done in collaboration with Federico Barbagli, a Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, Senior Director of Systems Engineering at Intuitive Surgical Inc., and former Chief Technology officerr at Hansen Medical. The course assistants are Robert Carrera and Margaret Koehler, both graduate students in Mechanical Engineering.

LecturesMondays and Wednesdays 9:30-10:20 am in Bldg. 530, Room 127
SeminarsFridays 9:30-10:20 am in Bldg. 530, Room 127
Allison's Office HoursWednesdays 2:30-4 in 550-107 or in and around 550-108, or by appt.
Robert's Office HoursMondays 3-5, Fridays 2:30-3:30 in and around 550-108, or by appt.
Margaret's Office HoursTuesdays 2:30-4 in and around 550-108, or by appt.

For announcements and questions/answers, please use piazza at Grades will be posted at


PDFs of lecture slides will be posted before lecture when possible. Schedule may change.
9/26Lecture 1: Introduction to medical robotics
9/28Lecture 2: Kinematics of medical robots
9/30Seminar 1: Catherine Mohr (Intuitive Surgical, Inc.)
10/3Lecture 3: Teleoperation
10/5Lecture 4: Cooperative manipulation
10/7Seminar 2: Nabil Simaan (Vanderbilt University)
10/10Lecture 5: Robot dynamics and simulation, Trajectory generation
10/12Lecture 6: Imaging guided medical robotics (Bruce Daniel, MD, PhD)
10/14Seminar 3: Shane Farritor (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
10/17Lecture 7: Medical imaging and image-guided interventions
10/19Lecture 8: Tracking and surgical navigation
10/21Seminar 4: Jonathan Sorger (Intuitive Surgical, Inc.)
10/24Lecture 9: Registration
10/26Lecture 10: Project discussion
10/28Seminar 5: Sherry Wren (Stanford University)
10/31Lecture 11: Port placement
11/2Lecture 12: Surgical simulation
11/4Seminar 6: Arianna Menciassi (Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna)
11/7Lecture 13: MR-US fusion for image-guided prostate biopsy (Richard Fan)
11/9Lecture 14: The broad spectrum of medical and healthcare robotics
11/11Seminar 7: Pierre Dupont (Harvard Children's Hospital)
11/14Lecture 15: Rehabilitation Robotics
11/16Lecture 16: Prosthetics
11/18No Seminar: Attend Bay Area Robotics Symposium (at Stanford)
11/21-11/25No class (Thanksgiving week)
11/28No class (project meetings)
11/30No class (project meetings)
12/2Seminar 8: Pablo Garcia (Verb Surgical)
12/5Project presentations
12/7Project presentations, continued
12/9No Seminar: Project presentations, continued


The dates below show when the assignment is distributed. These are tentative until the assignment is posted. Assignments will usually be due one week after distribution, in class or by 4:00 pm in the box outside Allison's door. (Access to solutions is restricted to students in the class; if you are not in the class and wish to see the solutions, email Allison and please explain who you are and what you will use the solutions for.)

9/26Background survey
9/28Assignment 1: Kinematics of Medical Robots (due 10/5), Solution
10/5Assignment 2: Teleoperation and Admittance Control (due 10/12), Lab Orientation, Code template (only as a backup, this is already on the workstations), Solution
10/12Assignment 3: Robot Control and Simulation (due 10/24), Solution
10/24Assignment 4: Medical Imaging and Needle Insertion (due Nov. 2), RPread.m Matlab script, Code template (only as a backup, this is already on the workstations), Solution
10/26Project out (various checkpoints due through the remainder of the quarter)
11/2Assignment 5: Port Placement (due 11/9), Code template (only as a backup, this is already on the workstations), Solution


Required readings will be identified in the assignments. Links to PDFs of readings are posted here.

9/28G. S. Guthart and J. K. Salisbury, Jr. The IntuitiveTM telesurgery system: overview and application. In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pp. 618-621, 2000. {pdf}
9/28A. J. Madhani, G. Niemeyer, and J. K. Salisbury, Jr. The Black Falcon: a teleoperated surgical instrument for minimally invasive surgery. In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pp. 936-944, 1998. {pdf}
9/28R. H. Taylor and D. Stoianovici. Medical Robotics in Computer-Integrated Surgery. IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 19(5):765-781, 2003. {pdf}
10/5G. Niemeyer, C. Preusche, G. Hirzinger. Chapter 31: Telerobotics. In Springer Handbook of Robotics, pages 741-757, 2008. {pdf}
10/5N. Enayati, E. De Momi and G. Ferrigno. Haptics in Robot-Assisted Surgery: Challenges and Benefits. IEEE Reviews in Biomedical Engineering, 9: 49-65, 2016. {pdf}
10/5J. Marescaux, J. Leroy, M. Gagner, F. Rubino, D. Mutter, M. Vix, S. E. Butner, M. K. Smith. Transatlantic Robot-Assisted Telesurgery. Nature, 413:379-380, 2001. {pdf}
10/12S. M. Farritor, A. C. Lehman, and D. Oleynikov. Miniature In Vivo Robots for Notes. In J. Rosen, B. Hannaford, and R. Satava, Eds., Surgical Robotics - Systems, Applications, and Visions, pp. 123-138. Springer, 2011. {pdf}
10/12H. Choset, M. Zenati, T. Ota, A. Degani, D. Schwartzman. Enabling Medical Robotics for the Next Generation of Minimally Invasive Procedures: Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery with Single Port Access. In J. Rosen, B. Hannaford, and R. Satava, Eds., Surgical Robotics - Systems, Applications, and Visions, pp. 257-270. Springer, 2011. {pdf}
10/24G. Fichtinger, P. Kazanzides, A. M. Okamura, G. D. Hager, L. L. Whitcomb, and R. H. Taylor. Surgical and Interventional Robotics Part II: Surgical CAD-CAM Systems. IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, 15(3):94-102, 2008. {pdf}
10/24N. Hata, J. Tokuda, S. Hurwitz, and S. Morikawa. MRI-Compatible Manipulator With Remote-Center- of-Motion Control. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 27:1130-1138, 2008. {pdf}
10/24Z. Yaniv, and K. Cleary. Image-Guided Procedures: A Review. CAIMR Technical report TR-2006-3, 2006. {pdf}
11/2Z. J. W. Cannon, J. A. Stoll, S. D. Selha, P. E. Dupont, R. D. Howe, and D. F. Torchiana. Port Placement Planning in Robot-Assisted Coronary Artery Bypass. IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation 19(5): 912-17, 2003. {pdf}
11/2A. L. Trejos, R. V. Patel, I. Ross, and B. Kiaii. Optimizing port placement for robot-assisted minimally invasive cardiac surgery. The International Journal of Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery, 3(4):355-364, 2007. {pdf}


The project is to write and present a grant proposal for a new medical robot or medical robotics technology. Student teams will collect preliminary data or perform design/simulations to support the proposal. This project is designed to give students experience with the initiation of a new research project in the field of medical robotics. This will develop skills such as: describing motivation and significance, performing a literature review, developing supporting evidence, data presentation, and oral presentation. The proposal will be in the National Institutes of Health R21 format.

10/26Project out
11/4Project pre-proposal due (sample specific aims from Allison's medical robotics research)
11/18Supporting data due
12/2First proposal submission due by 8 pm (sample R21 proposals from Allison)
12/5-9 Oral presentations in class
12/9Peer review due by 8 pm (sample summary statements, peer review template)
12/14Final proposal submission due


This is where we will post links to other useful resources.

Reference books: Programming resources:
  • C++ Tutorial. Note that there are many free C/C++ tutorials online, this is just one that I found reasonable. For basic syntax and completing assignments, learning the basics of C will be sufficient.
  • MathWorks Matlab Tutorials. There are also many free Matlab tutorials online. This website links to a number of resources provided by MathWorks, the makers of Matlab.