Sim2Real Transfer of Reinforcement Learning for Concentric Tube Robots

Keshav Iyengar*, Hadi Sadati, Christos Bergeles, Sarah Sarah , Danail Stoyanov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Concentric Tube Robots (CTRs) are promising for minimally invasive interventions due to their miniature diameter, high dexterity, and compliance with soft tissue. CTRs comprise individual pre-curved tubes usually composed of NiTi and are arranged concentrically. As each tube is relatively rotated and translated, the backbone elongates, twists, and bends with a dexterity that is advantageous for confined spaces. Tube interactions, unmodelled phenomena, and inaccurate tube parameter estimation make physical modeling of CTRs challenging, complicating in turn kinematics and control. Deep reinforcement learning (RL) has been investigated as a solution. However, hardware validation has remained a challenge due to differences between the simulation and hardware domains. With simulation-only data, in this work, domain randomization is proposed as a strategy for translation to hardware of a simulation policy with no additionally acquired physical training data. The differences in simulation and hardware forward kinematics accuracy and precision are characterized by errors of 14.74 pm 8.87 mm or 26.61 pm 17.00% robot length. We showcase that the proposed domain randomization approach reduces errors by 56% in mean errors as compared to no domain randomization. Furthermore, we demonstrate path following capability in hardware with a line path with resulting errors of 4.37 pm 2.39 mm or 5.61 pm 3.11% robot length.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6147-6154
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023

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