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Seminar: Snakes everywhere: A way towards industrial robotic surgery, Prof. D. Axinte, University of Nottingham

Thursday 5 January 2023, 12.00 - 13.00
Mechanical Engineering LT B (2.37)


It is not an easy task to navigate through contorted and cramped environments and then manipulate the end-effector to enable invasive operations. Surgeons have done so by hand for decades; with tool makers able to sell to aerospace mechanics for similar operations.

This presentation takes this idea a step further into the exciting journey of the development of ultra-slender snake-like robots. Due to their high level of engineering maturity, they have been first demonstrated for aeroengine in-situ repair, then picked-up by other industrial operators (e.g. nuclear, telecom, oil & gas) to find additional applications into the initially unexpected field of medical surgery. This culminates with an example of an ultra-slender snake robot (5m length, 9mm diameter) that - operated either locally or remotely using a joystick - can perform both industrial and medical surgery without significant alteration to the system.

Similar to medical surgery, the industrial engineers have used our snake robots to perform in-situ interventions of high-value assets (e.g., NDT, grinding/laser machining, coating repair), in other words ‘industrial surgery’. After these successful demonstrations, medical surgeons have also been excited to test our snake robots on human body interventions (e.g., throat surgery) where other existing manual or robotic techniques have less accessibility.

Starting with basic medical tools employed out of strict necessity for industrial applications, we are now closing the loop by transferring robotic solutions from industrial to human surgery. As such we ask ourselves what else can we do beyond “robotic surgery”?


Dragos Axinte is Professor of Manufacturing Engineering at University of Nottingham, UK. Graduated at University of Galati, Romania, after working in industrial research for eight years in Romania, he held two personal NATO Research Fellowships in Italy and Denmark and then moved to UK to carry out research with University of Birmingham and later with University of Nottingham. He was appointed Lecturer in Manufacturing Engineering (2005) and successively promoted to Associate Professor (2007), Reader (2010) and Professor (2011). Since 2009 Dragos is Director of The Rolls-Royce UTC in Manufacturing and On-Wing Technology at University of Nottingham. He is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Machine Tools and Manufacture and Fellow of International Academy of Production Engineering (FCIRP). Dragos has over 200 journal papers and over 20 granted international patents filed with industry partners.

Dragos research interest is in the following main areas: Specialist robotic solutions (e.g. continuum arms, walking hexapod machine tools) for in-situ repair and maintenance of complex industrial installation and advanced manufacturing technologies with particular focus on difficult-to-cut materials.