Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) robotics techniques: a possible application in surgery
Robot-assisted surgery is being developed to overcome human limitations and eliminate impediments associated with conventional surgical and interventional tools and the introduction of robotic technology to assist minimally invasive procedures has been shown to significantly improve outcomes. An important role in the future of medicine will be covered by autonomous probes or robots able to navigate outside or inside the patient’s body to refer position and discovered problem. It resulted that Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) has great potential in image-guided surgery applications, within the assumption of static environment. SLAM problems gained a big attention by the scientific community in the last decades, being tackled in many areas. In fact, independently of the specific task, the great importance of precise navigation for autonomous robots will affect its success and outcome. In this article, the main techniques adopted in general robotics SLAM problems are firstly reviewed, briefly describing their main characteristics and showing some of most interesting applications in literature. An insight in visual SLAM is then performed, as the optical sensor is of utmost importance in image-guided surgery systems. The second part of this article focuses on the medical field. It opens with some examples of robotic technologies that have been developed to help the surgeons’ work in reaching optimal accuracies and with a research on the SLAM techniques adopted in these applications.