Feedback control for steering needles through 3D deformable tissue using helical paths

Kris Hauser, Ron Alterovitz, Nuttapong Chentanez, Allison Okamura, Ken Goldberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Bevel-tip steerable needles are a promising new technology for improving accuracy and accessibility in minimally invasive medical procedures. As yet, 3D needle steering has not been demonstrated in the presence of tissue deformation and uncertainty, despite the application of progressively more sophisticated planning algorithms. This paper presents a feedback controller that steers a needle along 3D helical paths, and varies the helix radius to correct for perturbations. It achieves high accuracy for targets sufficiently far from the needle insertion point; this is counterintuitive because the system is highly underactuated and not locally controllable. The controller uses a model predictive control framework that chooses a needle twist rate such that the predicted helical trajectory minimizes the distance to the target. Fast branch and bound techniques enable execution at kilohertz rates on a 2GHz PC. We evaluate the controller under a variety of simulated perturbations, including imaging noise, needle deflections, and curvature estimation errors. We also test the controller in a 3D finite element simulator that incorporates deformation in the tissue as well as the needle. In deformable tissue examples, the controller reduced targeting error by up to 88% compared to open-loop execution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRobotics
Subtitle of host publicationScience and Systems V
EditorsJeff Trinkle, Yoky Matsuoka, Jose A. Castellanos
PublisherMIT Press Journals
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780262514637
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on Robotics Science and Systems, RSS 2009 - Seattle, United States
Duration: Jun 28 2009Jul 1 2009

Publication series

NameRobotics: Science and Systems
ISSN (Electronic)2330-765X


ConferenceInternational Conference on Robotics Science and Systems, RSS 2009
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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