I-SUR - Intelligent Surgical Robotics


This project will develop advanced technologies for automation in minimally invasive and open surgery. The introduction of more and more complex surgical devices, such as surgical robots, and single-port minimally invasive instruments, highlights the need of new control technologies in the operating room. On the one hand, the complexity of these devices requires new coordination methods to ensure their smooth operation; on the other hand, it also requires new interfaces that could simplify their use for surgeons. Automation may thus provide a solution to improve performance and efficiency in the operating room without increasing operating costs.
Currently, automation is not used in the operating room for a number of technical and legal reasons. The anatomical environment is particularly difficult to handle by classical automation. Furthermore, the execution of a surgical intervention is not only controlled by a set of physical and geometrical set points, describing the anatomical area and its properties, but also and especially by the medical and surgical knowledge that the surgeon uses in deciding what to do and how to do it, during the intervention. These control and cognitive challenges are also coupled to a legal barrier that currently prevents the use of an automatic intervention device in the operating room. In fact, liability issues of automatic products are known to have stopped many successful research projects in several Countries.
Thus, the I-SUR project aims at breaking new ground in the above areas related to automation in surgical intervention, in particular design of robotic surgical instruments, task modeling and control in highly uncertain and variable environments, medical situation awareness and its interaction with task control, surgeon-robot communication, and legal barrier identification.
To narrow the scope of the work the project will focus on simple surgical actions, such as puncturing, cutting and suturing. Success metrics will be defined for those actions and methods developed that abide by safety requirements, formulated in terms of those metrics. The project will demonstrate that an autonomous robotic surgical action, carried out with the developed technologies, can be as safe as currently achievable by traditional surgery. Furthermore, pre-operative task planning will be included in the project, to make sure that each surgeon is able to develop automatic procedures with his/her own surgical style.
The I-SUR consortium is composed of the following partners: two University Hospitals, at the University of Verona and at the San Raffaele Institute (Milano); the e-Services department of the San Raffaele Hospital; the ETH in Zurich; the BioRobotics Laboratory of the Tallinn University of Technology; the Interventional Center of the Oslo University Hospital; the Yeditepe University in Istanbul; and the Universities of Verona Ferrara and Modena-Reggio Emilia. The University of Verona coordinates the project.

Project details

Scientific responsability: Marcello Bonfé

 Funding source: 7th Framework Programme

Call: FP7 - Information & Communication technologies

Start date 1/03/2011 - end date 31/12/2014

Total cost: 4.410.581 €

EU contribution: 2.980.000 €

EU contribution to UniFe: 99.000 €


  • Università di Verona, Coordinator (Italy)
  • Ospedale San Raffaele (italy)