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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 20 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 Ph.D. students Lisa Yamada (Electrical Engienering) and Cole Simpson (Mechanical Engineering).

LecturesMondays and Wednesdays 9:30-10:20 am in Bldg. 300, Room 300
SeminarsFridays 9:30-10:20 am in Bldg. 320, Room 105
Lisa's Office HoursFridays 2:30-4:30 pm in and around 550-108, or by appt.
Cole's Office HoursMondays 3-4 pm, 6-7 pm in and around 550-108, or by appt.
Allison's Office HoursTuesdays 12-1:30 pm in 550-107 or 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.
1/7Lecture 1: Introduction to medical robotics
1/9Lecture 2: Kinematics of medical robots
1/11Seminar 1: Jonathan Sorger (Intuitive Surgical, Inc.)
1/14Lecture 3: Teleoperation
1/16Lecture 4: Cooperative manipulation
1/18Seminar 2: Catherine Mohr (Intuitive Surgical, Inc.)
1/21NO CLASS (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
1/23Lecture 5: Robot dynamics and simulation, Trajectory generation
1/25Seminar 3: Sherry Wren (Stanford School of Medicine) [SEMINAR IS AT 8:30 am this day!]
1/28Lecture 6: Medical imaging and image-guided interventions
1/30Lecture 7: Tracking and surgical navigation
2/1Seminar 4: Ann Majewicz Fey (University of Texas at Dallas)
2/4Lecture 8: Registration
2/6Lecture 9: Project discussion
2/8Seminar 5: Mike Yip (University of California at San Diego)
2/11Lecture 10: Port placement
2/13Lecture 11: Surgical simulation
2/15Seminar 6: Tania Morimoto (University of California at San Diego)
2/18NO CLASS (President's Day)
2/20Lecture 12: The broad spectrum of medical and healthcare robotics
2/22Seminar 7: Jake Abbott (University of Utah)
2/25Lecture 13: Medical Imaging and it's role in surgical robotics (Guest Lecture from Bruce Daniel)
2/27Lecture 14: Prosthetics (For reference, not presented in class: Rehabilitation Robotics)
3/1Seminar 8: Tim Kowalewski (University of Minnesota)
3/4No class (project meetings)
3/6No class (project meetings)
3/8Seminar 9: David Noonan and Chauncey Graetzel (Auris Health)
3/11Project presentations
3/13Project presentations, continued
3/15Project presentations, continued (No Seminar)


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.)

1/7Background survey
1/9Assignment 1: Kinematics of Medical Robots (due 1/16), Solutions
1/18Assignment 2: Teleoperation and Admittance Control (due 1/25), Lab introduction, Code template, Solutions
1/24Assignment 3: Robot Control and Simulation (due 1/31), Appendix, Solutions
1/30Assignment 4: Medical Imaging and Needle Insertion (due 2/13 -- two weeks and you will need to sign up for a lab time with a CA), Code template, Solutions
2/6Project out (various checkpoints due through the remainder of the quarter)
2/13Assignment 5: Port Placement (due 2/22), Code template, Solutions


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

1/9G. 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}
1/9A. 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}
1/9R. H. Taylor and D. Stoianovici. Medical Robotics in Computer-Integrated Surgery. IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 19(5):765-781, 2003. {pdf}
1/16G. Niemeyer, C. Preusche, S. Stramigioli, D. Lee. Chapter 43: Telerobotics. In Springer Handbook of Robotics, pages 1085-1108, 2016. {pdf}
1/16N. 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}
1/16J. 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}
1/24S. 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}
1/24H. 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}
1/30G. 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}
1/30N. 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}
1/30Z. Yaniv, and K. Cleary. Image-Guided Procedures: A Review. CAIMR Technical report TR-2006-3, 2006. {pdf}
2/13Z. 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}
2/13A. 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.

2/6Project out
2/15Project pre-proposal due
3/1Supporting data due
3/8First proposal submission due (see samples here)
3/11, 3/13, 3/15 Oral presentations in class
3/15Peer review due (template here)
3/20Final 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.