Development of a colon endoscope robot that adjusts its locomotion through the use of reinforcement learning

G. Trovato*, M. Shikanai, G. Ukawa, J. Kinoshita, N. Murai, J. W. Lee, H. Ishii, A. Takanishi, K. Tanoue, S. Ieiri, K. Konishi, M. Hashizume

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Fibre optic colonoscopy is usually performed with manual introduction and advancement of the endoscope, but there is potential for a robot capable of locomoting autonomously from the rectum to the caecum. A prototype robot was designed and tested. Methods The robot colonic endoscope consists in a front body with clockwise helical fin and a rear body with anticlockwise one, both connected via a DC motor. Input voltage is adjusted automatically by the robot, through the use of reinforcement learning, determining speed and direction (forward or backward). Results Experiments were performed both in-vitro and in-vivo, showing the feasibility of the robot. The device is capable of moving in a slippery environment, and reinforcement learning algorithms such as Q-learning and SARSA can obtain better results than simply applying full tension to the robot. Conclusions This self-propelled robotic endoscope has potential as an alternative to current fibre optic colonoscopy examination methods, especially with the addition of new sensors under development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-325
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jul


  • Autonomous colonoscope
  • Colon endoscope
  • Forward/reverse screw
  • Medical robot
  • Reinforcement learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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