Superhuman Performance of Surgical Tasks by Robots using Iterative Learning from Human-Guided Demonstrations. Jur van den Berg, Stephen Miller, Daniel Duckworth, Humphrey Hu, Andrew Wan, Xiao-Yu Fu, Ken Goldberg, Pieter Abbeel. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). Anchorage, AL. May 2010.
Abstract: In the future, robotic surgical assistants may assist surgeons by performing specific subtasks such as retraction and suturing to reduce surgeon tedium and reduce the duration of some operations. We propose an apprenticeship learning approach that has potential to allow robotic surgical assistants to autonomously execute specific trajectories with superhuman performance in terms of speed and smoothness. In the first step, we record a set of trajectories using human-guided back driven
motions of the robot. These are then analyzed to extract a smooth reference trajectory, which we execute at gradually increasing speeds using a variant of iterative learning control. We evaluate this approach on two representative tasks using the Berkeley Surgical Robots: a figure eight trajectory and a two handed knot-tie, a tedious suturing sub-task required in many surgical procedures. Results suggest that the approach enables (i) rapid learning of trajectories, (ii) smoother trajectories than the human-guided trajectories, and (iii) trajectories that are 7 to 10 times faster than the best human-guided trajectories