A Miniature Mobile Robot for Navigation and Positioning on the Beating Heart

IEEE Trans Robot. 2009;25(5):1109-1124. doi: 10.1109/tro.2009.2027375.


Robotic assistance enhances conventional endoscopy; yet, limitations have hindered its mainstream adoption for cardiac surgery. HeartLander is a miniature mobile robot that addresses several of these limitations by providing precise and stable access over the surface of the beating heart in a less-invasive manner. The robot adheres to the heart and navigates to any desired target in a semiautonomous fashion. The initial therapies considered for HeartLander generally require precise navigation to multiple surface targets for treatment. To balance speed and precision, we decompose any general target acquisition into navigation to the target region followed by fine positioning to each target. In closed-chest, beating-heart animal studies, we demonstrated navigation to targets located around the circumference of the heart, as well as acquisition of target patterns on the anterior and posterior surfaces with an average error of 1.7 mm. The average drift encountered during station-keeping was 0.7 mm. These preclinical results demonstrate the feasibility of precise semiautonomous delivery of therapy to the surface of the beating heart using HeartLander.