Leveraging Actin's Modeling and Control Toolkit using the QNX Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) for Surgical Robots

Daniel Melanz
Sep 20, 2021 8:47:00 AM

The Actin Toolkit is now more powerful than ever when combined with the reliability, performance, and security of the QNX RTOS. Actin, the premiere commercially available SDK for real-time control and simulation of medical robotic systems, can dramatically accelerate the development of your robotics-based medical applications through its cutting-edge tools for modelingcontrolling, and deploying complex mechanisms: 

Figure 1: The Actin SDK can be used to design and test your system completely in simulation (left) followed by a seamless deployment of your application on hardware (right). 

Step 1: Model the manipulators and environment 

Our core Actin simulation technologies dramatically cut down the time required to take a medical robot from concept to clinic. Our innovative simulation tools let engineers rapidly optimize their designs and enable clinicians to try them out before they are even built. Actin’s powerful visualization tools make it easy to convey engineering design to clinicians, customers, and investors. 


Designing surgical robot systems is a complicated balancing act: the system needs to have enough moving axes to give surgeons the dexterity they need inside the body, but too many moving parts increases the complexity and cost of the system. Actin’s simulation and kinematic optimization tools are ideally suited to help engineers rapidly evaluate design options and help select the most capable systems with the least complexity and cost. 


In the operating room, surgical robots and surgeons must work in concert. That’s why clinicians demand the most from their robotic tools. Actin’s dynamic simulation tools enable engineers to analyze their system’s dynamic properties (link inertia, friction, etc.) to select just the right robot actuators and controllers that make their devices move crisply and smoothly -- delivering therapy exactly the way it needs to be done. 


Actin’s powerful simulation tools can help surgeons make the most of their advanced robotic tools. As a preoperative planner, Actin can help surgeons leverage patient and procedure information to configure their complex surgical robots before the procedure even begins. Selecting the best configuration can make even the trickiest procedures hassle-free so that they can be performed smoother, faster, and with improved patient outcomes. 

Step 2: Task and tune the robotic system 

Actin’s control algorithms make even the most complex surgical robotic systems intuitive for surgeons to operate. With Actin, surgeons don’t need to think about how to make their robot do what they want -they are completely free to concentrate on the challenging tasks at the surgical site. 


Our core Actin technologies are designed from the ground up to control systems with many axes and moving parts in ways that maximize their capabilities throughout the entire procedure. For example, Actin can seamlessly act “behind the scenes” to prevent a surgical robot’s moving parts from getting in the way of each other while the surgeon manipulates the instruments in the patient’s body. Actin’s advanced coordination algorithms keep medical procedures moving forward smoothly and eliminate the need to periodically stop to reconfigure robots into more amenable configurations. 


Actin can make even the most complex surgical robot satisfy motion constraints, even when they change over time. Actin’s control methods can command robot motions that naturally respect instrument entry-ports into the patient’s body (i.e., remote-center motion), which can be reconfigured on-the-fly as surgical instruments are changed in and out. Actin was designed to easily handle many different forms of motion constraints at once, accommodating even the most complex clinical scenarios. 


The Actin library includes features that enable surgeons to protect their patients by easily configuring keep-out zones if they want to keep their instrument from entering specific regions, either in the patient's body or in the operating theater. Actin has been deployed in safety-critical applications and Energid’s commitment to software robustness and quality make Actin the ideal choice for robotic systems in the operating room. 

Step 3: Deploy your application 

Since no robot is complete until it has been deployed on hardware, Actin has been built from the ground up to support mission-critical systems and can be deployed on embedded systems. Actin provides easy integration with robots, sensors, and actuators and is compatible with the QNX, an RTOS commonly used in medical devices and robots. 


The QNX Neutrino RTOS’s microkernel architecture isolates every application, driver, protocol stack and filesystem in its own address spaces outside the kernel. This means that a failed component won’t take down other components or the kernel; it can be restarted immediately, with minimal impact on system performance. 


The QNX Neutrino RTOS offers the determinism only a real-time OS can provide. Techniques such as adaptive partitioning guarantee critical processes get the cycles they need to complete their tasks on time, while maintaining the performance your complex embedded systems require. 


The QNX Neutrino RTOS provides a comprehensive, layered approach to security. You can easily configure security profiles with the granularity you need for your systems, as well as monitor and audit their integrity. 

Actin is backed by Energid’s unrivaled expertise in architecting, developing, and deploying software applications for complex robotic systems, including medical applications with unparalleled control. The Energid team can help bring a new robotic product to market quickly at reduced cost and risk.

If you would like to learn more about how Actin can accelerate the development of your robot-based medical applications, you can reach the author of this blog, Daniel Melanz here.  

For more information on the QNX RTOS, please visit here or here.


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