Medical Robotics Company Harnesses UCF Research for Computer-Aided Surgery
A medical robotics company has licensed University of Central Florida expertise to develop software for a new surgical-robotic platform.
AVRA Medical Robotics Inc., which has an office in the UCF Business Incubator, has partnered with Professor Zhihua Qu and research Professor Eytan Pollak of the College of Engineering & Computer Science to develop algorithms and sensors to navigate and control a robot capable of assisting physicians with performing minimally invasive surgical procedures in an ambulatory setting or operating room.
Barry F. Cohen, AVRA founder and chairman, said he was drawn to UCF because of its engineering strength for the development of a modular, robotic-assistive system that will be portable, precise and affordable.
“UCF research is providing the precision and guidance necessary for a computer-driven robotic system that will facilitate superior outcomes,” Cohen said.
AVRA partnered with a new industry-sponsored innovation program at UCF by providing $200,000 initially with planned follow-up funding for the research and the rights to any intellectual property developed during the project. In addition, AVRA will pay UCF 1 percent in royalty fees for annual sales exceeding $20 million resulting from the intellectual property.
“At UCF we encourage the collaboration between our research and industry. Initiatives such as this innovation program help streamline the process and move pioneering research into the market,” said Elizabeth Klonoff, vice president for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies.
Qu and Pollak have extensive backgrounds in the development of computer-operated systems that encompass the integration of tools and sensors, real-time image/data processing, navigation, control and human-machine interface. Qu’s research has included robotic platforms and autonomous vehicles for the Department of Defense, applications and and intelligent robotic systems for life support on Mars among others, autonomous coordination of robotic devices, and human-robot teaming.
Pollak has 30 years’ experience in managing complex research and development programs, holds several patents and has published papers in control systems and robotics. He is also the director of strategic technologies at L-3 Communications Link Simulation & Training.
Based on an original concept proposed by Qu, his graduate students Niladri Basu Bal and Deepalakshmi Babu Venkateswaran have implemented navigation/control algorithms and completed a 3-D computer visualization of how such a robotic device would work. Computer-aided design and development of a graphic user interface for surgeons are now under way.
AVRA has recently added some industry partners to its team. Anthony Nicholson, a longtime benefactor of UCF, serves as a senior advisor of the company, and Peter Carnegie, CEO of Minimally Invasive Solutions in Ocoee, and Dr. Nikhil Shah of Atlanta, are new directors.
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