This paper presents a soft multi-module manipulator for minimally invasive surgery (MIS). The design and the materials are bioinspired and try to reproduce some biological capabilities of the octopus, such as elongation, omni-directional bending and stiffness variation. Embedded fluidic chambers allow to pneumatically actuate the manipulator in order to achieve a 3-D motion, while a variable stiffness mechanism based on the granular jamming phenomenon allows to control the stiffness of the arm. The design of three modules integration and the fabrication phases as well as a preliminary study on the 3-module manipulator performance are reported. Elongation and bending have been experimentally evaluated. The arm is 165 mm long and it is able to elongate up to 53.3% of the initial length and to bend up to 248 degrees depending on the combination of the actuated chambers.
STIFF-FLOP surgical manipulator: design and preliminary motion evaluation (PDF Download Available). Available from: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/267642405_STIFF-FLOP_surgical_manipulator_design_and_preliminary_motion_evaluation [accessed Sep 18, 2015].