Controlling a Robotically Steered Needle in the Presence of Torsional Friction

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



A flexible needle can be accurately steered by robotically controlling the orientation of the bevel tip as the needle is inserted into tissue. Here, we demonstrate the significant effect of friction between the long, flexible needle shaft and the tissue, which can cause a significant discrepancy between the orientation of the needle tip and the orientation of the base where the needle is controlled. Our experiments show that several common phantom tissues used in needle steering experiments impart substantial frictional forces to the needle shaft, resulting in a lag of over 45° for a 10 cm insertion depth in some phantoms; clinical studies have reported torques large enough to could cause similar errors during needle insertions. Such angle discrepancies will result in poor performance or failure of path planners and image-guided controllers, since the needles used in percutaneous procedures are too small for state-of-the-art imaging to accurately measure the tip angle. To compensate for the angle discrepancy, we develop a model for the rotational dynamics of a needle being continuously inserted into tissue and show how a PD controller is sufficient to compensate for the rotational dynamics.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

2009 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, p. 3476-3481