IRIM/GCMR Robotics Seminar—Robert Howe of Harvard

The Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines presents “Uniting Robots and Ultrasound for Cardiac Repair” by Robert Howe of Harvard. This event is a joint seminar with the Georgia Center for Medical Robotics (GCMR). GCMR seminars are sponsored in part by Intuitive.

The seminar will be held in the Klaus Advanced Computing Building, Rooms 1116 E & W, from 12:15-1:15 p.m. and is open to the public.


Minimally invasive techniques have revolutionized many areas of surgery, but heart surgery has seen limited progress. We are working to combine ultrasound imaging and robotic manipulation to enable cardiac procedures that minimize patient impacts. One robotic system automatically points ultrasound catheters. This four-DOF robotic system enables panoramic views of internal heart structures and automatically tracks catheters working within the beating heart during minimally invasive procedures. Another robotic system uses real-time 3D ultrasound imaging for dynamic visualization of internal cardiac anatomy through the opaque blood pool. We have developed image processing algorithms that can track tissue structures and surgical instruments in real time, despite poor resolution, acoustic artifacts, and data rates of over 30 million voxels per second. For manipulation of rapidly moving cardiac tissue we have created robotic catheters that can keep pace with fast-moving tissue. This allows the surgeon to interact with the heart as if it was stationary. In vivo validation of this technology in atrial septal defect closure and mitral valve annuloplasty procedures demonstrate the potential for improved patient outcomes.


Robert D. Howe is the Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Engineering in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and faculty chair of the Harvard MS/MBA Program in Engineering Sciences.

In 1990, Howe founded the Harvard BioRobotics Laboratory, which investigates the roles of sensing and mechanical design in motor control, in both humans and robots. His research interests focus on manipulation, the sense of touch, and human-machine interfaces. Biomedical applications of this work include the development of robotic and image-guided surgical procedures.

Howe earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Reed College, then worked as a design engineer in the electronics industry in Silicon Valley. He received a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University in 1990, and then joined the faculty at Harvard. Howe is a Fellow of the IEEE and the AIMBE, and he has won best paper awards at mechanical engineering, robotics, and surgery conferences.

Howe's lab web site is

Event Details


  • Wednesday, October 9, 2019
    12:15 pm - 1:15 pm
Location: Klaus Advanced Computing Building, Rooms 1116 E & W

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