This paper presents several mechanical models of a high-strength cable-driven dexterous manipulator designed for surgical procedures. A stiffness model is presented that distinguishes between contributions from the cables and the backbone. A physics-based model incorporating cable friction is developed and its predictions are compared with experimental data. The data show that under high tension and high curvature, the shape of the manipulator deviates significantly from a circular arc. However, simple parametric models can fit the shape with good accuracy. The motivating application for this study is to develop a model so that shape can be predicted using easily measured quantities such as tension, so that real-time navigation may be performed, especially in minimally-invasive surgical procedures, while reducing the need for hazardous imaging methods such as fluoroscopy.
Keywords: Cable-driven robots; kinematics; medical robots and systems; snake-like robots; underactuated robots.