MIE Distinguished Seminar Series: Lifesaving Capsule Robots

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Date(s) - 16/02/2018


Speaker: Pietro Valdastri
Affiliation: University of Leeds, UK


The talk will focus on Medical Capsule Robots. Capsule robots are cm-size devices that leverage extreme miniaturization to access and operate in environments that are out of reach for larger robots. In medicine, capsule robots can be designed to be swallowed like a pill and to diagnose and treat mortal diseases, such as cancer. The talk will move from capsule robots for the inspection of the digestive tract toward a new generation of surgical robots and devices, having a relevant reduction in size and invasiveness as the main driver for innovation. During the talk, we will discuss the recent enabling technologies that are being developed at the University of Leeds to transform medical robotics. These technologies include magnetic manipulation of capsule robots, water jet propulsion, real-time tracking of capsule position and orientation, magnetic force measurement, miniature mechatronic design, small-scale electronic circuits, and open-source design environments.


Prof. Valdastri’s academic career started with a Laurea degree cum Laude in Electronic Engineering from the University of Pisa in 2001 and a PhD degree cum Laude in Biomedical Engineering from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in 2006, with Prof. Paolo Dario as primary advisor. After the PhD, he served as Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna for three years, focusing on implantable medical devices and surgical robotics. In 2011, Prof. Valdastri moved to Vanderbilt University, where he became Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, with secondary appointments in the Electrical Engineering Department and in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. At Vanderbilt University, Prof. Valdastri founded the Science and Technologies Of Robotics in Medicine (STORM) Lab, a research lab focusing on medical capsule robots for gastrointestinal endoscopy and abdominal surgery. In 2016, he moved to Leeds as Chair in Robotics and Autonomous Systems with a primary appointment in the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and a secondary appointment in the School of Mechanical Engineering. In Leeds, Prof. Valdastri is directing the Institute of Robotics, Autonomous System and Sensing (IRASS), the STORM Lab, and the Robotics at Leeds network. Prof. Valdastri is a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award holder, a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), one of the Editors of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, a member of the Technology Committee of the European Association for Endoscopic Surgery (EAES), and a member of the steering committee of the International Society for Medical Innovation and Technology (iSMIT). To date, STORM Lab’s research has been featured by several tech news outlets, including BBC, The Financial Times, Spectator, WIRED, IEEE Spectrum, Medgadget, Medical Design Technology Magazine, Medical Xpress, Newswise, NSF Science Now.