PURPOSE: The integration of a robot into an image-guided therapy system is still a time consuming process, due to the lack of a well-accepted standard for interdevice communication. The aim of this project is to simplify this procedure by developing an open interface based on three interface classes: state control, visualisation, and sensor. A state machine on the robot control is added to the concept because the robot has its own workflow during surgical procedures, which differs from the workflow of the surgeon.
METHODS: A KUKA Light Weight Robot is integrated into the medical technology environment of the Institute of Mechatronic Systems as a proof of concept. Therefore, 3D Slicer was used as visualisation and state control software. For the network communication the OpenIGTLink protocol was implemented. In order to achieve high rate control of the robot the "KUKA Sunrise. Connectivity SmartServo" package was used. An exemplary state machine providing states typically used by image-guided therapy interventions, was implemented. Two interface classes, which allow for a direct use of OpenIGTLink for robot control on the one hand and visualisation on the other hand were developed. Additionally, a 3D Slicer module was written to operate the state control.
RESULTS: Utilising the described software concept the state machine could be operated by the 3D Slicer module with 20 Hz cycle rate and no data loss was detected during a test phase of approximately 270s (13,640 packages). Furthermore, the current robot pose could be sent with more than 60 Hz. No influence on the performance of the state machine by the communication thread could be measured.
CONCLUSION: Simplified integration was achieved by using only one programming context for the implementation of the state machine, the interfaces, and the robot control. Eventually, the exemplary state machine can be easily expanded by adding new states.