Ontario haptic technology project
Quanser Inc. has announced an R&D
partnership with Canadian Surgical Technology and Advanced Robotics
(C-STAR) and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), to advance the
state of robot-assisted surgery. Using Quanser’s cutting-edge Haptic
Technology, the project aims to put Canada at the forefront of
developing next-generation medical robotic technology.
Led by CSTAR, this $750,000 research project will build upon Quanser’s
work in the area of haptics and advanced robotic technology, with the
ability to add a realistic ‘sense of touch’ to surgical robotic tools.
Markham, Ontario-based Quanser is a leader in the emerging field of
haptics and has previously integrated its expertise and equipment into
medical training simulators and surgical robotic prototypes. Quanser’s
haptic technology and research tools will provide integral components
for the new project, which is aimed at improving techniques for
‘minimally invasive surgery’ (MIS).
“We’re designing robotic tools to enhance surgical capabilities,
allowing the surgeon to transcend the limitations of conventional
technology and work in a less invasive environment,” says Quanser CEO
Paul Gilbert. “As we continue to make advancements, we will see a
widening in the range of surgical procedures for which robotically
assisted surgery is suited – from brain-microsurgery to surgery over
Robotically assisted surgery allows precision robotic tools to act as a
surgeon’s arms, hands and fingers with greater reach, accuracy and
effectiveness – and without the need for large incisions. The benefits
are many: less trauma, pain and blood loss; fewer complications; minimal
scarring; faster recovery times and shorter hospital stays; and less
strain on overburdened healthcare systems.
In the past, the drawback has been that the surgeon would lose the
all-important sense of touch. Quanser’s haptic technology resolves this
quandary using complex mathematical computer models to convey realistic
sensory feelings back to the surgeon.
This ‘sense’ of touch allows the surgeon to check for calcification, to
feel the ‘pop’ when a needle pokes through tissue, to feel resistance
when suturing, or to feel the forces on a scalpel. The technology also
eliminates natural tremors and prevents accidental movements from being
transmitted to the robotic tools.
Dr. Rajni Patel, Director of Engineering at C-STAR says, “The need for
medical robotic technology is growing exponentially, and haptic-enhanced
robotic surgical systems will become the staples of the hospitals and
operating rooms of the future.” He adds, “The technology and ideas are
right here in Canada, through companies like Quanser, with the potential
to dramatically improve health care delivery all over the world.”
The global medical robotic market continues to expand dramatically and
the Ontario Centres of Excellence, who are partnering with Quanser on a
number of projects, were quick to realize the huge potential and ready
market for this technology.
Gilbert says, “Without OCE’s support for this groundbreaking research
and development, we would not be able to invest the time and resources
necessary to explore these new and important applications for haptic
The new initiative, entitled ‘Haptics-Enabled Robotics-Assisted
Minimally Invasive Surgery,’ is supported by more than half-a-million
dollars in up-front cash investment, including $247,000 in funding from
Quanser’s investment in this project is valued at $300,000, which
includes a financial contribution of almost $70,000 and engineering
services and technical support worth approximately $230,000. Additional
funding for this project was provided by Natural Sciences and
Engineering Research Council Canada (NSERC).
This initiative is a compelling example of Canadian ingenuity leading
the charge to revolutionize in-demand technology. With the support of
funding programs such as OCE, innovative companies like Quanser can take
advanced concepts from design to manufacturing, thus positioning
Canadian technology to meet growing worldwide demand.
Founded in 1990, Quanser is a world leader in the innovation and
development of advanced control systems for industry, education and
research. Quanser provides flexible, real-time solutions for complex
control problems – from design to manufacture to OEM implementation –
taking concepts, products and research to the leading edge. Quanser’s
flexible state-of-the-art control technology is currently employed
worldwide in a diverse range of applications, including aerospace,
robotics, medical assistive devices and the emerging field of haptics.
About Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics (C-STAR)
CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics) is Canada’s
national centre for developing and testing the next generation of
minimally invasive surgical and interventional technologies and
techniques, including robotics. CSTAR trains the surgeons of the future
and shares expertise around the world. Building on world and national
firsts pioneered by surgeons in London, CSTAR was launched in December
2001. CSTAR is a collaborative research program of London Health
Sciences Centre (LHSC), Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson), The
University of Western Ontario (Western) and St. Joseph’s Health Care,
London (St. Joseph’s).
About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc.
The Ontario Centres of Excellence is the pre-eminent
research-to-commercialization vehicle in Ontario. Ontario Centres of
Excellence (OCE) Inc. drives the commercialization of cutting-edge
research across key market sectors to build the economy of tomorrow and
secure Ontario’s global competitiveness. In doing this, OCE also fosters
the training and development of the next generation of innovators and
entrepreneurs, and is a key partner with Ontario’s industry,
universities, colleges, research hospitals, investors and governments.
Celebrating 20 years of innovation in 2007, OCE’s five Centres work in
communications and information technology, earth and environmental
technologies, energy, materials and manufacturing, and photonics. For
more information, visit Quanser’s new web site at