3-D Electromagnetic Position Estimation System Using High-Magnetic-Permeability Metal for Continuum Medical Robots

Heng Wang, Shuangyi Wang, Hongbin Liu, Kawal Rhode, Zeng Guang Hou, Rajesh Rajamani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In this letter, a new 3-D electromagnetic position sensing method is proposed for localization of continuum medical robots. An electromagnet and magnetic sensors are placed outside the human body while only a piece of passive mu-metal with high magnetic permeability is attached to the robot moving inside the body, resulting in a wireless non-contacting position estimation system. The mu-metal gets easily magnetized by the electromagnet and thus exerts position-dependent influence on the external magnetic field, which is measured for position estimation using a particle filter. An alternating magnetic field from the electromagnet is used and hence disturbances from nearby ferromagnetic objects can be rejected. The 3-D position estimation system is evaluated on a flexible trans-esophageal robot for ultrasound imaging with motions of insertion and maneuver. Experiments show that the mean position estimation error is about 5 mm and the system is robust in the presence of magnetic disturbances from a ferromagnetic object. This new wireless and robust 3-D position estimation system is demonstrated to have the potential to localize a continuum medical robot, which can enable autonomous navigation of the robot.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2581-2588
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
2377-3766 © 2022 IEEE. Personal use is permitted, but republication/redistribution requires IEEE permission. See https://www.ieee.org/publications/rights/index.html for more information.


  • Electromagnets
  • Estimation
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Magnetic sensors
  • Medical robotics
  • Robot sensing systems
  • Robots


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