0113 343 0933

Wireless power transfer in robotics – Chigozirim Ibeabuchi

Date published: 15/08/18

Wireless power transfer in robotics

In May, Translate opened its summer student project scheme to support small medical technology development projects in the Leeds City Region. The scheme proved to be a massive success and 26 unique projects were funded. Learn more about their work in this blog.

This project focuses on the application of Wireless Power Transfer to robotic surgical tools and capsule robotics. In both applications, a key challenge is that the physical size of the manipulator or capsule is a very significant constraint that limits how much “payload” can be integrated.

A key concept is that the capsule/surgical tool should be controlled from outside the body. For example, Valdastri (Director of Robotics at Leeds), is pioneering techniques that include external magnetic manipulation, water jet motion control/steering and bellows/pneumatic actuation.

We are studying the application of Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) to control miniature sensors and actuators in the capsule or surgical tool, avoiding the need for batteries.

We are looking primarily at the 2.45 and 5.8GHz “ISM” bands since these are license free and reasonably low cost power amplifiers are widely available. We are starting to look at the antenna design and in other work we are working with colleagues on relevant 3D hybrid manufacture techniques so the antenna can be integrated into a capsule.

We are also researching into different miniature actuators, particularly using microfluidic approaches. One leading contender is the so-called “wax motor” in which the phase-change behaviour of wax leads to a 5 to 20% expansion that can drive a linear actuator.

Such an actuator would find application in surgical tools for minimally invasive surgery and capsule robotics. We are currently in discussions with Dr Somjit about fabricating a demonstrator since he has tremendous expertise in MEMS (Microelectromechanical Systems) technology.