Project Motivation, Needs, and Goals

Experimental setup

My name is Paris Brown and I’m a MS student in the MEMS department. Having graduated from a medical high school, I have always had an interest in the medical field. When I chose to major in engineering, I still wanted to combine my mechanical skills with my passion for medicine.  A great way to do this is with medical devices. Because I am specifically interested in robotics, working on a medical robot seemed to be the best option. 

I was inspired to work on this type of robot from research currently being conducted in the Duke Acute Care Technology lab. Their robot uses a strain gauge to detect IV needle displacement when it encounters blood clots. My robot is a simpler version. It will detect the force of the needle as it enters the vein and display the data as a force vs time graph. Although the current focus of this project is to detect the force of the vein, this is a crucial step in developing an autonomous robot that will be able to determine when to stop inserting the needle. 

In the future I would like for this robot to become fully autonomous in the sense that it will be able to detect a vein using cameras/computer vision and safely insert a needle into the skin with ease. Medical malpractice from intravenous device errors is a leading cause of death in the US. Inserting the needle incorrectly can cause air embolisms which can be fatal. Other than fatalities, incorrect IV procedures can cause pain, bruising, and leaking blood/fluid. This robot will be able to remove human error and insert an IV more efficiently which can essentially save lives.

Learning Objectives

The objective of this project is to create a robotic arm that will have the ability to locate a vein and insert an IV. 

This project includes four main focus areas:

  1. Processing/Controls
  2. Sensors/Data Analysis
  3. Design & 3D Printing
  4. Inverse Kinematics & Machine Learning 

Current testing is being done on the correlation of different pitch angles of the needle and the force being applied to the needle from the vein.

On the left below is a picture of the silicone skin with veins that I will be using for this project along with the needle insertion angle. On the right is a figure showing how to properly insert an IV in a real life setting.

Project Vision

This project consists of multiple mini projects and can be split into four phases.

Phase 1 consists of the assembly of two simple robots that can be found on thingiverse. This phase will also introduce you to Arduino and how to use it to make the project more efficient.

Phase 2 consists of assembling a more difficult robot and learning how to control it with Bluetooth as well as PC. This phase also involves design and 3D printing techniques.

Phase 3 involves learning how to control the storeBOT through Arduino, control the linear actuator using two methods, and how to use a force resisting sensor. This phase also involves the combination of multiple of the previous projects in the other phases to make the force sensing vein robot.

Phase 4 is the last phase and involves machine learning, computer vision, inverse kinematics, and the injection mechanism of the syringe. 

Instructional Video: Sensors

This is a video of a brief overview on how a 3 axis accelerometer works and how a force sensing resistor works. I’ve experimented with quite a few sensors during the progress of this project and it is important to not only know how to use and code them, but how they work as a MEMS device as well.

About The Author:

Howdy! My name is Paris Brown and I am a first semester (starting Spring 2021) mechanical engineering MS student.

I have my BS in mechanical engineering technology from the University of Houston and have almost completed flight school for my private pilot license. I have a passion for aviation, medicine, and innovation.

Last Updated: May 2021