Soft growing steerable robots for intraluminal navigation

  • As catheters are inserted intraluminally, they exercise shear forces on the anatomy walls. These forces can cause damage to sensitive lumens such as vessels, mammary ducts, renal channels, or bile ducts.
  • Current robotic catheters do not deviate from this conventional actuation paradigm, and therefore face the same problems.

The Problem

  • Engineering solutions are required to achieve better steering of robotic catheters in addition to minimising the forces exerted on the anatomy.
  • Growing, also called everting, robots elongate from their tip, through the “unfolding” of new material that passes through the robot body.
  • Existing growing robots lack steerability and do not possess a mechanism to transfer tools to their tip.

The Solution

  • We developed technology that possesses the growing advantages of everting robots with the steerability and tool-transfer capabilities of catheters.
  • Our IP enables, for the first time, the creation of catheters that naturally conform to the anatomy, forming a growing protective sheath that allows for tool transfer to the pathology location. Shear forces are avoided, while the inherent softness of the robot further minimises inadvertent damage.

Fig 1. (a) Cross section of the pressurisation tank showing the interface between the growing element and both the active channel and the growing nozzle. (b) The removable sealed port of the pressurisation tank and the active channel. The port can be removed to place a new growing element (tool interchange). Scaling is achieved with two pairs of internal and external o-rings (in  blue). The active channel tube is actuated with two rollers and Herrinbone gears (c) The syringe pump allowing to control the pressure of the growing element. The pump uses  saline solution as the pressure medium. 


King’s are currently seeking commercial partners to help us develop this technology and bring the technology to market. A prospective development partner could take an option to a licence over the patent and associated know-how.

IP Status

A priority patent application has been filed in the UK

Patent Information:
Medical devices
For Information, Contact:
Pushkar Wadke
King's College London
Pierre Berthet-Rayne