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Technique finds software bugs in surgical robots and helps developers fix flaws, ensure safety
Date:4/8/2013

is helpful for the surgeon, because the robot knows the delicate boundaries that the surgeon cannot necessarily see during the surgery.

Kouskoulas said the robot and the control algorithm were tested extensively, including on cadavers. "While it worked in the configurations in which it was tested, the fear was always that something unexpected could go wrong," he noted.

By using the formal verification method, the researchers showed that indeed something unexpected could occur in corners of the surgical site. They found that in some geometrical configurations, the safety feedback for one boundary would interfere with that of the adjoining boundary, canceling each other out and allowing the tool to be pushed beyond the limits set by the surgeon.

The tool generated examples of how this could occur. "It leads you to the problem," Kouskoulas explained. "You then have to be creative to find the solution." With that guidance, researchers were able to devise a new algorithm and use their method to prove it was safe.

"Medical robotics is an interesting problem area for hybrid systems," Platzer said. Existing certification procedures, which rely on trial-and-error testing, aren't appropriate for evaluating these software-intensive devices, he said. This study shows that formal verification methods can be applied successfully to medical robotics and that further development is warranted, he added.


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Contact: Byron Spice
bspice@cs.cmu.edu
412-268-9068
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

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