Unskillful operation and rough handling of conventional colonoscope, especially at the sigmoid colon, may lead to perforation or splitting the colon wall. Thus, it is crucial to develop autonomous or semi-autonomous colonoscopes that do not require physical force by the doctors for their motions. In this paper, we report the design and development of a colonoscopic robot system that has a locomotive function based on inchworm-like motion, with a hollow body and a steering system that consists of three pneumatic bellows of 7mm diameter, each located 120° apart from the others at the head part. The steering device can bend up to approximately 90°. In order to evaluate the performance of the colonoscopic robot, in-vitro tests and in-vivo tests were carried out. The experimental results show the feasibility of the prototype colonoscopic robot being used for diagnosis and treatments in colon.
2006 by The Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers