We have developed a prototype teleoperated microsurgical robot (MSR-1) and associated virtual environment for eye surgery. Bidirectional pathways relay visual, auditory, and mechanical information between the MSR-1 master and slave. The surgeon wears a helmet (visual master) that is used to control the orientation of a stereo camera system (visual slave) observing the surgery. Images from the stereo camera system are relayed back to the helmet (or adjacent screen) where they are viewed by the surgeon. In each hand the surgeon holds a pseudotool (a shaft shaped like a microsurgical scalpel) that projects from the left and right limbs of a force reflecting interface (mechanical master). Movements of the left and right pseudotools cause corresponding movements (scaled down by 1 to 100 times) in the microsurgical tools held by the left and right limbs of the micromotion robot (mechanical slave) that performs the surgery. Forces exerted on the left and right limbs of the slave microsurgical robot via the microtools are reflected back (after being scaled up by 1 to 100 times) to the pseudotools and hence surgeon via actuators in the left and right limbs of the mechanical master. This system enables tissue cutting forces to be felt including those that would normally be imperceptible if they were transmitted directly to the surgeon's hands. The master and slave subsystems (visual, auditory, and mechanical) communicate through a computer system which serves to enhance and augment images, filter hand tremor, perform coordinate transformations, and perform safety checks. The computer system consists of master and slave computers that communicate via an optical fiber connection. As a result, the MSR-1 master and slave may be located at different sites, which permits remote robotic microsurgery to become a reality. MSR-1 is being used as an experimental testbed for studying the effects of feedforward and feedback delays on remote surgery and is used in research on enhancing the accuracy and dexterity of microsurgeons by creating mechanical and visual telepresence.

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