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PALPABLE is a Horizon Europe project that aims to take existing state-of-the-art robot-assisted and laparoscopic surgery techniques to the next level.  By introducing a new generation of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) tools, the project will work towards developing a novel, tactile sensing probe for use as a palpation tool, ideal for the accurate identification and visualisation of tissue abnormalities.  On top of these necessary characteristics, the plan is to make the tool reasonably priced, and sustainable due to the recyclability of its parts.

Thankfully, in the last 20 years, MIS has taken leaps ahead.  The shift towards soft robotics has been very beneficial because the rigid robots that are suited to the manufacturing industry are not yet ideal for the medical field.  Yet, despite their dexterity, accuracy and gentle touch, existing soft robots face issues within MIS environments regarding their control, and especially their palpation capabilities.  So since, at this point in time, there is limited, or no, visual, haptic and tactile feedback in-situ, PALPABLE aims to resolve this issue with its probe, photonic sensing elements and modular design.  In this way, the project will be able to contribute even more to reducing tissue damage, postoperative analgesic requirements and blood loss, as well as decreased hospitalisation time and better cosmetic results.

TWI Hellas is responsible for the overall coordination of the project.  In terms of the technical work, it will be leading the mechanical, hardware and software architecture design tasks, readout unit development and full system integration.

Partners: Hellenic Mediterranean University, Medtronic, Bendabl, Università degli Studi di Torino, Fraunhofer HHI, The European Association of Endoscopic Surgery (EAES), ️Sofradim Production SASU, Queen Mary University of London, University of Essex

PALPABLE is funded by the European Union under the Horizon Europe programme.