Endo Tools Therapeutics (Belgium) has applied PXI CAN interface boards for its endoscopy tele-operation robot. The hardware and the Labview programming environment was provided by National Instruments (USA). Almost all communication was done via the CAN boards using the CANopen protocol, which was implemented with an additional library. All the Virtual Instruments (VIs) were managed in the same Labview project under the Source Control feature.
ENDO TOOLS THERAPEUTICS (ETT) IS A MEDICAL DEVICE COMPANY that was established in 2008. The company was formed after an innovative research project started in 2004 at Erasme Hospital and the faculty of engineering (Beams department, Université Libre de Bruxelles), based on the need for gastroenterologists to have more degrees of freedom when maneuvering an endoscope. The researchers focused on developing robotized flexible arms anchored on an endoscope to insert into the digestive tract. Those arms would move independently from the endoscope and would enable surgery from within the digestive tract. This would give surgeons and gastroenterologists a set of new “scarless” therapies like those used in obesity treatment and tumor resection.
The first part of the system is called Endomina, and consists of flexible arms that are inserted into the patient’s digestive tract. Endomina has multiple wires, which are pulled or pushed to move the arms like a puppet. The second part of the system, called Endofix, is a motorized medical station that connects to Endomina. Besides computational hardware, Endofix has several motors, two haptic joysticks, and a touch panel. Endofix motors move Endomina wires according to a calculation done on the movements performed by the gastroenterologist with the two haptic joysticks. Endofix has a visual human interface on the touchscreen panel that gives information to the user about the status of the operation, and also provides additional user controls. The gastroenterologist becomes a puppet master of what happens at the end of Endomina’s arms inside the digestive tract of the patient.
The device was prototyped with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) industrial controllers using text-based programming and sensors interfaced via CAN networks. The researchers applied the PXI boards with CAN connectivity by National Instruments (NI). The hardware consisted of a 4-slot PXI-1031 chassis containing a PXI-8101 2-GHz embedded real-time controller, a PXI-8512 one-port CAN interface, and a PXI-7811R reconfigurable FPGA board with 160 digital I/O. The CAN interface is used to control the motor controllers for the Endofix medical motorized station.
Endofix consists of two separate sets of VIs. The first set is an HMI software developed in Labview on a Windows XP-based touch panel.
It provides the user with information about the status of the entire system during the operation, as well as additional controls. There is also a set of real-time VIs, developed with the Labview Real-Time Module running on the PXI platform. These VIs handle the communication with all the actuators and sensors, perform all the movement calculations, and take care of safety measures.
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