Bio-X SIGF Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2020
Home Department: Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Advisors: Allison Okamura (Mechanical Engineering), Sherry Wren (Surgery – General Surgery), Jeannette Bohg (Computer Science), and Dorsa Sadigh (Computer Science and Electrical Engineering)

Research Title: Feeling through Seeing: Vision-Based Force Estimation in Robot-Assisted Surgery

Research Description: Poor force estimation by surgeons during robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery (RMIS) can lead to undesirable consequences such as tissue trauma. The difficulty of force estimation in RMIS is partly attributed to a lack of haptic feedback. Zonghe hypothesizes that strong correlations between visible stimuli and interaction forces allow both humans and intelligent systems to visually estimate force. He proposes to test this hypothesis by evaluating if haptics-based training facilitates trainees’ visuo-haptic internal model development for improved force estimation in RMIS, and then developing a vision-based deep learning model to estimate force in RMIS. By combining haptics and human-robot interaction, machine learning, and an understanding of human sensorimotor neuroscience with surgery, the resulting predictive models could dramatically improve surgeon training and RMIS procedures.


Zonghe is an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University in the department of electrical, computer & systems engineering.