Design, Sensing, and Control of a Magnetic Compliant Continuum Manipulator

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Continuum manipulators coupled with magnetic actuation have great potential as steerable instruments for diverse surgical applications. They can be maneuvered inside the human body to reach difficult-to-access surgical sites with contactless actuation. This paper presents a new design of a compliant continuum manipulator of diameter 3 mm and length 70 mm, capable of spatial bending under magnetic actuation. A quasi-static model is developed to estimate the 3D motion of the manipulator. Experiments report an overall mean error in whole shape estimation of the manipulator between the model and the ground truth of 1.7 mm and 4.8 mm, when suspended vertically and horizontally from its base, respectively. Furthermore, fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors are integrated with the manipulator to enable shape sensing. Closed-loop control is demonstrated to trace different trajectories with the tip of the manipulator. A square trajectory and a straight line trajectory are generated with an average error in tip position of 4.1 mm between the desired and estimated positions. The potential of the manipulator as a steerable instrument is validated by maneuvering it inside phantoms of a bifurcating arterial system and a heart with visual guidance from a miniature camera.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)910-921
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Medical Robotics and Bionics
Issue number4
Early online date6 Sep 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022


  • Magnetic actuation
  • Continuum manipulator
  • Medical robotics
  • Motion control
  • Shape sensing


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