Contact Localization of Continuum and Flexible Robot Using Data-driven Approach

Xuan Thao Ha, Di Wu, Chun Feng Lai, Mouloud Ourak, Gianni Borghesan, Arianna Menciassi, Emmanuel Vander Poorten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


Continuum robots such as robotic catheters are increasingly being used in minimally invasive surgery. Compliance contributes to enhanced safety during e.g. catheter insertion, however, estimation of contact force and location may help clinicians avoiding exerting excessive force. Ultimately this could lead to faster and safer interventions. Researchers proposed force sensors integrated in the catheter tip in the past. However, such sensors add extra complexity to the catheter design. Also, tip force sensors do not provide insights on forces that act along the catheter length. This paper proposes a data-driven approach for localizing contact forces that appear over the length of the catheter. The proposed approach consists of a collision detection method and a contact localization method. The framework only requires the measurement of the catheter's shape which can be done by an embedded multi-core Fiber Bragg Grating fiber. The method was validated experimentally with a 3D-printed continuum robot with an integrated multi-core fiber. A second contact localization method which is based on identifying the discontinuity in the measured curvature, is also implemented and compared with the proposed method. The static and dynamic experiments show a mean average localization error of 2.3 mm and 4.3 mm which correspond to respectively 3.3% and 6.1% of a 70 mm long flexible robot. These findings demonstrate that the proposed framework outperforms the previous methods and yield promising results. The contact state estimation algorithm can detect collisions in at most approximately 1.08s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6910-6917
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Cameras
  • Catheters
  • Fiber gratings
  • Force
  • Optical fiber cables
  • Optical fiber sensors
  • Sensors


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