Open Challenges and State-of-the-Art in Control System Design and Technology Development for Surgical Robotic Systems

About the workshop

The field of surgical robotics has significantly grown over the past few decades to enable the use of robotic systems in various medical procedures. However, the deployment and integration of robots in the operation theatre has been hampered by issues such as safety concerns, limited sensory perception and situational awareness for the surgeon, and having to operate in hard-to-reach and confined spaces. Some of these concerns can be addressed via the design and development of novel control strategies. This workshop will bring together researchers, industry engineers, and scientists of different backgrounds and provide an opportunity to discuss challenges for designing closed-loop control strategies and control software implementation for surgical robot deployment. The goals of this workshop are to broadly engage the surgical robotics community, leverage the momentum of the existing community by presenting the latest developments in surgical robot control and implementation, and to define the roadmap for future enhancements.


After decades of research on surgical robots, numerous designs, models, and sensing technologies have been investigated, demonstrating capabilities beyond the scope of conventional interventions. The various modelling and sensing strategies that have been developed so far form the basis for control approaches for surgical robots that range from autonomous to teleoperated in terms of the operation mode. However, there remain challenges for designing closed-loop control strategies that rely on the developed models and sensors if these systems are to provide the necessary precision and safety characteristics. Examples of such challenges are state observation/estimation for closed-loop control, filtering and processing sensor readouts as feedback signals, control of human-robot interaction, control and telemanipulation of highly articulated multi-arm or continuum robots.

Besides technology development, control software implementation is another crucial aspect in surgical robot deployment. Particularly, there are not much studies have been done on how to develop and evaluate the surgical control system technology and software to satisfy stringent and demanding control software validation and verification process from the regulatory perspective.

From this perspective, this workshop will bring together researchers, industry engineers, and scientists of different backgrounds and provide an opportunity to discuss these issues regarding surgical robot control technology development. The topics of interest include but are not limited to the following:

  • Image-guided control and visual servoing of surgical robots
  • Dynamics models and dynamics-based controllers
  • Stability, disturbance rejection, and robustness of control strategies in surgical robotics
  • Cooperative or semi-autonomous control of surgical robots
  • Motion planning for surgical tasks
  • Force sensing and force control
  • Model-less and data driven control
  • Application of deep learning in control of surgical robots
  • Integration of sensing techniques in control of surgical robots
  • Novel control approaches for human and surgical robot interface
  • Ethics of robot autonomy


Russell Taylor, Johns Hopkins University

Pierre Dupont, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Tim Salcudean, University of British Columbia

Nabil Simaan, Vanderbilt University

Ron Alterovitz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Rajni Patel, University of Western Ontario

Mahdi Tavakoli, University of Alberta

Christos Bergeles, King’s College London

Kwok Wai Samuel Au, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Stefano Stramigioli, University of Twente

Caleb Rucker, University of Tennessee

David Camarillo, Stanford University

Jason Chan, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

David Noonan, Auris Health, Inc.

Mohsen Khadem, University of Edinburgh

Frashid Alambeigi, Johns Hopkins University

Call For Posters

We invite participants to submit short papers (2~4 pages) of relevant work via EasyChair. The accepted contributions will be posted on the workshop website but they will not appear in the official IEEE proceedings. The reviewing is single blind by a committee formed by the workshop organizers and invited speakers. The template for the contributions is IEEE RAS workshop (Latex).

The submission web page is

Accepted contributions will have the opportunity to present their work in a poster session and a 3 min presentation at the workshop. Selected contributions (short paper submitted only to the workshop) will be invited for a special issue on Journal of Medical Robotics Research

Important Dates

Paper submission deadline: 15 April 2019

Notification of acceptance: 1 May 2019

Camera-ready version: 15 May 2019

Workshop day: 23rd (24th) May 2019 (Full Day)

Deadlines are: 11.59p.m [GMT/UTC +0]

Organizing Committee

Mahdi Tavakoli, Professor, PhD, P.Eng.

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of Alberta, AB, Canada.


Christos Bergeles, Senior Lecturer, PhD.

Department of Imaging and Biomedical Engineering, King’s College London, London, UK.


Kwok Wai Samuel Au, Associate Professor, PhD.

Mechanical and Automation Engineering Department, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T. Hong Kong SAR, China.


Mohsen Khadem, Lecturer, PhD.

School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK


Schedule (Tentative)