MAMMOBOT: A Miniature Steerable Soft Growing Robot for Early Breast Cancer Detection

Pierre Berthet-Rayne, S.M.H. Sadati, George Petrou, Neel Patel, Stamatia Giannarou, Daniel Richard Leff, Christos Bergeles

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Abstract

This paper presents MAMMOBOT, one of the first millimetre-scale steerable soft growing robots for medical applications. MAMMOBOT aims to access the breast through the nipple and navigate the mammary ducts to detect precursors of invasive breast cancers. Addressing limitations of the state-of-the- art, MAMMOBOT maintains a hollow inner lumen throughout its soft body, enabling the passing of instruments such as miniature endoscopes, biopsy needles, and optical probes for in situ histopathology. MAMMOBOT is developed by a novel manufacturing approach entailing dual LDPE sheet adhesion with localised heat treatment. MAMMOBOT’s steerability is achieved through a sub-millimetre profiled steerable catheter that passes through its inner lumen. A duty cycle controller governs steering versus growing to achieve navigation in complex environments within a human-in-the-loop framework. Benchtop experimental evaluation demonstrates the robot’s capabilities and agreement with a Reduced Order Model (ROM) of its mechanics. Finally, experimental evaluation on a bespoke breast phantom developed for the purposes of this project demonstrates the clinical relevance and potential impact of MAMMOBOT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Mar 2021

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