Chair for Computer Aided Medical Procedures & Augmented Reality
Lehrstuhl für Informatikanwendungen in der Medizin & Augmented Reality

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Introduction to Surgical Robotics

Winter term 2015/2016

After attending this lecture, you'll know about:

  • Analyzing the pros and cons of the use of robots in existing surgical workflows
  • Fundamentals of modes of operation, compiling requirements, specifying components and integration aspects of systems
  • Conception and modeling of solutions for problems based on technical and algorithmic approaches
  • Definition of a clinical project for enhancing surgical applications by the use of robotics

The lecture is structured into three areas:

  • State of the Art and Environment
  • Robotics Basics
  • Basics for Designing a Surgical Robotics Application

You will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about the cutting edge research in surgical robotics
  • Talk to specialists from technology development
  • Develop and present your own approach of robotics assistance in the operating room
  • Do practical work and pass a final test
The application-oriented course begins with a presentation of current surgical interventions with robotics assistance and correspondent research projects, analysing benefits and drawbacks. Then, basic knowledge about surgical techniques is presented. Several lectures put the focus on background knowledge that is required for computer scientists to include robotics in their research projects. The acquired knowledge is applied by the students to develop a solution to an existing clinical problem using robotics assistance.

Administrative Info

Lecture: Dr. Rainer Konietschke and Dr. Benjamin Frisch
Tutor: TBD

Type: Lecture + Lab Courses TUMonline
Programs: Robotics, Cognition, Intelligence (Master)
Biomedical Computing (Master)
SWS: 2+2
ECTS: 5 Credits
Course Language: English


  • The classes and assignments are in English
  • Assignments are to be composed in English only


  • Self-organized familiarization with MATLAB/Simulink
  • Midterm presentation (Powerpoint or equivalent) of 15 minutes/per team including the medical basics of a procedure, equipment used, evaluation of procedure (logistics, use of equipment, timing, who is involved and individual roles, other relevant information, starting points for improvements, and next steps ...)
  • Final presentation (Powerpoint or equivalent) of 15 minutes/per team of defined process, engineering and computer science relevant evaluation, identification of potential process improvements, actual process improvement (pick one topic) with robotics assistance (improve quality and surgical accuracy? improve timing of procedure? cost improvement? ...)


ALERT! Registration is only possible via TUMonline once the course appears there. There will be a limit of 18 participants, priority is given by time of registration.

  • Grading will be based on attendance (20%), the midterm presentation (25%), the final group presentation (25%), and a test (45 minutes) on the technology basics (30%)
  • ALERT!One excused (E-Mail at least two days prior to lecture with reason) absence will be accepted, two excused absences will cause a "4" in attendance, a non-excused absence equals failure of the course. That includes the attendance of the surgeries and Q&A sessions. The first block is mandatory!


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The lecture includes:
  • Block 1 - State of the Art and Environment I
    • Part 1 - Organizational Matter (Rainer Konietschke) - 35 min: You will get a short preview of the lecture. We will form groups of 3-4 students for the assignments and operation room visits. You will get the surgeon contacts to schedule your OR visits. The assignments will be presented, and the first assignment (work with MATLAB/Simulink) is delegated to you.
    • Part 2 - Products and Research (Rainer Konietschke) - 90 min: This lecture will, based on the current state of the art surgical robotics, identify and classify various potentials of robotics in the OR. After this lecture, you will have an idea of the opportunities and challenges in surgical robotics and get a starting point for your contribution in this field.
    • Part 2 - Surgical Techniques I (Bernhard Kübler) - 60 min: You will learn about the general course of action and processes in ORs, technical basics of endoscopes (flexible endoscopes as well as minimally invasive surgery), and examples of application. Furthermore, basics of sterilization technology (gas, low-temperature plasma, heat, radiation) and notes on design of MIS instruments as well as current trends in surgery (single port surgery, NOTES etc.) will be presented.
  • Block 2 - State of the Art and Environment II
    • Part 1 - User interface, usability, evaluation, user-centric design (Bernhard Weber) - 60 min: The lecture consists of mainly two parts: (1) a general introduction to human factors methods and (2) an example of applying these methods in the field of robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery. In Part 1, methods of developing, improving and evaluating novel concepts of human-machine interfaces will be reviewed. It will be described how to involve end users in each stage of the product cycle, to determine user requirements as well as limitations and to evaluate concepts or systems accordingly. Besides qualitative methods like systematic field observations, semi-structured interviews, hierarchical task analyses and prototype testing, quantitative experimental methods like part-task or full scale simulations will be presented. In Part 2, the practical application of the user-centered approach will be illustrated by the example of DLR’s surgical robot MIRO for minimally invasive surgery.
    • Part 2 - Surgical Techniques II (Bernhard Kübler) - 150 min: see Surgical Techniques I.
  • Block 3 - Robotics Basics I
    • Part 1 - Midterm presentations (You) - 30 min
    • Part 2 - Kinematics (Christopher Schlenk) - 90 min: After a short repetition of rigid body transformation matrices, alternative ways to represent rotations such as Euler- and Kardan-angles, “angle and axis” representation, and unit quaternions will be introduced. Subsequently, the Denavit-Hartenberg convention to describe robot kinematics will be explained. Then, the calculation of the direct and inverse kinematics and of the Jacobi matrix of a robot is derived. Finally, you will learn how to calibrate a tool to the robot coordinate system.
    • Part 3 - Kinematics exercises (Christopher Schlenk, Julian Klodmann) - 90 min: At the beginning of this exercise, you will identify the Denavit-Hartenberg parameters of a robotic arm. Using these information, you will investigate the direct and inverse kinematics of this robot in MATLAB/Simulink and plot its workspace.
  • Block 4 - Robotics Basics II
    • Part 1 - Midterm presentations (You) - 30 min
    • Part 2 - Control I (Andreas Tobergte) 90 min: You will learn about basic concepts in control like linear control, laplace transformation, transfer functions, state space formulation, pid controller, state control.
    • Part 3 - Exercises (Andreas Tobergte, Rainer Konietschke) 30 min: You will do some exercises using MATLAB/Simulink.
    • Part 4 - Control II (Andreas Tobergte) 30 min: In this lecture you will get an introduction to passivity-based robot control.
  • Block 5 - Robotics Basics III
    • Part 1 - Midterm presentations (You) - 30 min
    • Part 2 – Sensors (Florian Steidle) - 45 min: We give an overview about possible sensor types used in robotics as well as fundamentals about physical measurement technologies.
    • Part 3 – Actuators (Rainer Konietschke) - 30 min: Introduction to actuators, with focus on electromechanical actuators which are most relevant for surgical robotics.
    • Part 4 - Dynamics (Julian Klodmann) - 90 min: The dynamics modeling of robot manipulators is essential for mechanical design, control and simulation of robotic systems. Understanding the dynamics of a robotic system enables to evaluate its capabilities and limitations to perform a certain task. Beginning with the dynamics of a first order mass-spring-damper system, you will form the dynamic equations of motion of robot manipulators. Different algorithms to derive the robot dynamics are summarized.
  • Block 6 - Visit to DLR
    • Part 1 - Final presentations (You) - 30 min
    • Part 2 – Presentation of DLR surgical robotics (DLR surgical robotics group)
  • Block 7 - Basics for Designing a Surgical Robotics Application I
    • Part 1 - Final presentations (You) - 60 min
    • Part 2 - Classification of surgical robotics applications (Rainer Konietschke) - 15 min: We will present different methods to classify surgical robotics applications.
    • Part 3 - Calibration/Registration in time and space (Florian Steidle) - 30 min:
    • Part 4 - Tracking of natural and artificial landmarks (Martin Gröger) - 45 min:
  • Block 8 - Basics for Designing a Surgical Robotics Application II
    • Part 1 - Surgical end effectors for Robots (Sophie Lantermann) - 45 min:
    • Part 2 - Final exam (You)
    • Part 3 - Final presentations (You) - 45 min
    • Part 4 - Wrap-up (All) - 15 min

We will have about 30 min of breaks in each block, arranged by the lecturers.

Lecture Schedule

Date Location Conducted by Topic Literature Slides
16.10.2015 8:30-12:30 01.10.011, Seminarraum (Inf. 18/19 (5610.01.011)) Rainer Konietschke, Bernhard Kübler Block 1: State of the Art and Environment I    
30.10.2015 8:30-12:30 01.10.011, Seminarraum (Inf. 18/19 (5610.01.011)) Bernhard Kübler, Bernhard Weber Block 2: State of the Art and Environment II    
20.11.2015 8:30-12:30 01.10.011, Seminarraum (Inf. 18/19 (5610.01.011)) Christopher Schlenk, Julian Klodmann Block 3 - Robotics Basics I    
27.11.2015 8:30-12:30 01.10.011, Seminarraum (Inf. 18/19 (5610.01.011)) Andreas Tobergte Block 4 - Robotics Basics II    
04.12.2015 8:30-12:30 01.10.011, Seminarraum (Inf. 18/19 (5610.01.011)) Julian Klodmann, Florian Steidle, Rainer Konietschke Block 5 - Robotics Basics III    
11.12.2015 8:30-12:30 DLR Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, Oberpfaffenhofen DLR surgical robotics group Block 6 - Visit to DLR    
22.01.2016 8:30-12:30 01.10.011, Seminarraum (Inf. 18/19 (5610.01.011)) Florian Steidle, Martin Gröger, Rainer Konietschke Block 7 - Basics for Designing a Surgical Robotics Application I    
29.01.2016 8:30-12:30 Lecture will start in usual room 01.10.011, Seminarraum (Inf. 18/19 (5610.01.011))
For the exam, we will change into room 5433.EG.003 in Boltzmannstr. 17 (see picture)
Sophie Lantermann Block 9 - Basics for Designing a Surgical Robotics Application II    


  • Jacob Rosen; Blake Hannaford; Richard M. Satava (Eds.) (2011) Surgical Robotics – Systems Applications and Visions, Springer, ISBN 978-1-4419-1125-4
  • John J. Craig. 1989. Introduction to Robotics: Mechanics and Control (2nd ed.). Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc., Boston, MA, USA.
  • Hagn, U., Nickl, M., Jörg, S., Tobergte, A., Kübler, B., Passig, G., Gröger, M., Fröhlich, F., Seibold, U., Konietschke, R., Le-Tien, L., Albu-Schäffer, A., Grebenstein, M., Ortmaier, T. & Hirzinger, G. (2008) DLR MiroSurge – towards versatility in surgical robotics. 7. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Computer- und Roboterassistierte Chirurgie e.V. Proceedings of CURAC, 2008, pp. 143 – 146.
  • Selected Workshop and Proceedings of the following congresses: ICRA, IROS, CARS, Curac

Title: Introduction to Surgical Robotics
Professor: Dr. Rainer Konietschke and Dr. Benjamin Frisch
Type: Lecture
Information: 2 + 2 SWS, 5 ECTS Credits
Term: 2015WiSe
Abstract: The application-oriented course begins with a presentation of surgical interventions in cooperation with surgeons. State-of-the-art methods and methods with robotic assistance will be presented and compared. Then, background knowledge for surgical robotics is presented. Eventually, the acquired knowledge is applied to develop a solution to an existing clinical problem using robotics assistance.

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