In recent years, with the rapid development of minimally invasive surgery (MIS), the lack of force sensing associated with the surgical instrument used in MIS has been increasingly a desirable technology amongst clinicians. However, it is still an open technical challenge to date since most existing tactile sensing principles are not suitable to small 3-dimensional (3D) curved surfaces often seen in surgical instruments, and as a result multi-point force detection cannot be realized. In this paper, a novel optical waveguide-based sensor was proposed to deal with the above research gap. A sensor prototype for curved surfaces resembling the surface of dissection forceps was developed and experimentally evaluated. The static parameters and dynamic response characteristics of the sensor were measured. Results show that the static hysteresis error is less than 3%, the resolution is 0.026 N, and the repeatability is less than 1.5%. Under a frequency of 12.5 Hz, the sensor could quickly measure the variation of the force signal. We demonstrated that this small and high-precision sensitive sensor design is promising to be used for creating multiple-point tactile sensing for minimally invasive surgical instruments with 3D surfaces.
- 3D surface
- minimally invasive surgical
- multi-point force measurement
- optical sensor
- tactile sensor