Location: London

A competition for academia and industry.

Surgical Robot Challenge 2017 is an international competition 

This promises to be a compelling contest between some of the leading surgical robotics groups from around the world. The aim of this challenge is to exploit the unique expertise of the consortium in medical robotics to develop low-cost robot-assisted surgical and diagnostic devices that can benefit the NHS as well as be used as solutions for global health. Our aim is to enable the creation of new concepts for affordable systems especially with potential for applications in the developing world.
Instead of focusing on complex, high cost systems, the emphasis is on systems that rely on robotic platforms that allow macro to micro-scale intervention with shared autonomy between the surgeon and the robot, focussing specifically on novel soft robotics design and micro-actuators and delivery systems.

The research issues to be addressed include:

  1. Bioinspired actuation and locomotion Integrated sensing and navigation;
  2. Micro-fabrication and new materials; control and autonomy;
  3. Robot kinematics and mechanisms; mapping and navigation within complex anatomy based on intra-operative imaging and cellular level tissue characterisation;
  4. Mobility (self contained locomotion, active magnetic control);
  5. Sensing (co-registration of multiple imaging and sensing data);
  6. Autonomy (balance between human/robot control).

Our research will also address:

  1. Safe symbiotic co-working in challenging clinical scenarios: focused on ubiquitous safe operation and more effective human-robot interaction methods;
  2. Manipulation and assembly of complex and non-rigid components across scales (from macro to micro): focused on localisation, grasping, and manipulation (under contact) of complex components with variable and changeable rigidity;
  3. Rapidly deployable autonomous robots: focused on reducing programming and integration effort through, for example, learning from demonstration, tele-operation with shared autonomy, and collaboration/task sharing within networked robotics;
  4. Virtual validation of mixed autonomous system: focused on analytical or empirical validation techniques in virtual environments before actual physical deployment.

Underpinning technologies will include:

  1. Tactile/force sensing for remote palpation;
  2. Micro-fabrication techniques for robot assisted endoluminal interventions and low cost platforms for digestive-tract screening in low income countries;
  3. Soft robotics for minimally invasive surgery; low-cost robotic solutions for emergency treatment in difficult, possibly none-sterile environments;
  4. Robotic assisted endomicroscopy for optical biopsy in global health settings;
  5. Low-cost capsule robots and in vivo diagnostic systems;
  6. Low-cost haptic simulators for the training of surgeons and other clinicians;
  7. Development of easy-to-use interactive medical devices using human factors;
  8. Socially aware robots enabling remote diagnosis and therapy in developing countries; ultra-low power platforms;
  9. Machine intelligence and computational support for autonomous operation, navigation and diagnostic decision support through advanced vision.

With the support of Intuitive Surgical, KUKA and Applied Dexterity, this competition aims to showcase innovative new ideas in surgical robotics across a range of surgical robot platforms.


There is a total prize fund of 10,000 GBP consisting of multiple cash prizes and tickets to the Hamlyn Symposium 2017.
The winners will be decided by an independent judging panel.
All teams attending the finals will be competing for the main prizes.
Teams that are unable to attend the finals will only be able to compete in the best video category.
The final winner will be announced at the International Robotics Showcase on Friday 30th June in London.

Surgical Robot Challenge 2017: Steering Committee

Guang-Zhong Yang, Imperial College London, UK (Chair)
Russel Taylor, Johns Hopkins University, USA
Simon DiMaio, Intuitive Surgical Inc, USA
Cyrill von Tiesenhausen, KUKA Robotics, Germany
Robert Merrifield, Imperial College London, UK




Robert Merrifield (Competition Organiser), Imperial College London, UK 


Event date: 
Saturday, June 24, 2017 -
09:00 to 18:00