Wire-driven flexible manipulator with constrained spherical joints for minimally invasive surgery

  • Daekeun Ji
  • Tae Hun Kang
  • Seongbo Shim
  • Seongpung Lee
  • Jaesung HongEmail author
Original Article



One of the main factors that affect the rigidity of flexible robots is the twist deformation because of the external force exerted on the end effector. Another important factor that affects accuracy is the fact that such robots do not have a constant curvature. The conventional kinematic model assumes that the curvature is constant; however, in reality, it is not. To improve the rigidity and accuracy of flexible robots used in minimally invasive surgery via preventing the twist deformation while ensuring a constant curvature, we propose a novel flexible manipulator with ball-constrained spherical (BCS) joints and a spring.


The BCS joints are used to prevent the twist deformation in the flexible robot. The joints have two degrees of freedom (DOFs), which limit the rotation about the axial direction. The rotation is limited because the ball that is inserted into a BCS joint can move only along the ball guide. To obtain a constant curvature, springs are installed among the BCS joints. The springs receive the uniform compression force generated among the joints, thus achieving a constant curvature. The proposed BCS joint is designed based on the diameter of the forceps, desired workspace, and desired bending angle.


To evaluate the proposed mechanism, three experiments were performed using a 20-mm-diameter prototype consisting of 13 BCS joints with a two-DOF motion. The experimental results showed that the prototype can realize a constant curvature with a mean error of 0.21°, which can support up to 5 N with no apparent twist deformation.


We developed a flexible manipulator with BCS joints for minimally invasive surgery. The proposed mechanism is anticipated to help prevent the twist deformation of the robot and realize a constant curvature. Accordingly, it is expected that rigidity is improved to ensure accuracy.


Flexible manipulator Minimally invasive surgery Ball-constrained spherical joint 



This material is based upon work supported by the Ministry of Trade Industry and Energy (MOTIE, Korea), the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT, Korea), and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW, Korea) under the Technology Development Program for AI-Bio-Robot-Medicine Convergence (20001688).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies performed by any of the authors on human participants or animals.

Informed consent

This article does not contain patient data.


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Copyright information

© CARS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daekeun Ji
    • 1
  • Tae Hun Kang
    • 2
  • Seongbo Shim
    • 1
  • Seongpung Lee
    • 1
  • Jaesung Hong
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Robotics Engineering DepartmentDGISTDaeguRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Convergence Research Center for Collaborative RobotsDGISTDaeguRepublic of Korea

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