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PROSIT objectives are to develop, for an end-to-end platform, a dedicated multi DOF robotic system usable for a tele-echography diagnostic application. The development and design of two industrial ultrasound probe-holder prototypes will be based on robust mechanical optimisation techniques. The mechanical design approach will enable accurate identifications of the proposed robot mechanical imperfections to be taken into account by a model to improve the global robot performances. A new calibration technique of the robotic system will include the mechanical parameters flaws (backlashes, flexibilities…) inherent to the materials used and the industrial process; this latter technique will be considered for a 3D ultrasound reconstruction to enhance the medical decision process. The control problematic will be considered by two main approaches. One will focus on a visual servoing process; the other will deal with a force control algorithm for the bilateral tele-operated system.

The technical constraints introduced by communication in long distance control result in difficulties for the operator to securely control the remote system, we propose to study and define a force control algorithm for a bilateral tele-operated system that will be managed by a supervisory controller. It will be shown that it is the only solution to keep the stability margin whatever the time delay. This approach will enable to get a robust force control law with respect to delay, variation of the delay, and variation of the stiffness of the environment.

The haptic input device developed within PROSIT to render the distant force to the expert hand will be tested with this approach, transparency and stability will be evaluated for the medical expert under various time delay situations. This approach in collaboration with the proposed new interactive functionalities will guarantee a reliable tele-examination, a safety functioning and maintenance of the tele-echography chain, and will offer a reliable ultrasound examination and diagnosis for the isolated patients to enhance the overall medical decision process.

Clinical validation is the final step of the project where several volunteers will take part in robotised tele-echography act via satellite or terrestrial communication link.; they will be accompany with the paramedical staff and experts who will evaluate the proposed system: easiness and set up time, ergonomy of the man machine interface, concordance of diagnosis between bedside echography and robotised echography. This will be completed by a throughout economical, medical end users study on the constraints and parameters for a full deployment of PROSIT system over the hospital networks.