July 27, 2021
Computer science doctoral student Mengyu Fu was awarded a Best Paper Finalist Award at the Robotics: Science and Systems Conference in July 2021. The Robotics: Science and Systems Conference is one of the top research conferences in the field of robotics.
The paper, “Toward Certifiable Motion Planning for Medical Steerable Needles,” was co-authored by Fu’s advisor, Professor Ron Alterovitz, and by Assistant Professor Oren Salzman of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
Fu’s research centers on automating medical procedures using robots, which has the potential to enhance the precision, accuracy, efficiency, and safety of procedures and hence improve patient care. Specifically, Fu’s research focuses on steerable needles, a specific type of medical robot in which a flexible, controllable needle is steered through tissue to reach a target while avoiding obstacles such as blood vessels and other sensitive structures. The team introduced the first motion planner for steerable needles that offers a guarantee, under clinically appropriate assumptions, that it will, in finite time, compute a feasible, obstacle-avoiding path to a specified target, or notify the user that no such path to the target is possible. Compared to prior methods for computing motion plans for steerable needles, the new motion planning algorithm computes plans faster and with a higher success rate.
Improving automated steerable needle procedures can enable physicians and patients to harness the full potential of steerable needles by maximally leveraging their steerability to safely and accurately reach targets for medical procedures such as biopsies and localized therapy delivery for cancer.