UCLA Mechatronics and Controls Laboratory
I got involved with UCLA's Mechatronics and Controls Laboratory in winter quarter of my first year at UCLA (2018-2019). I am currently working under a post doc researcher with research revolving the automation of several procedures within eye surgery. The project's full name is the IRISS (Intraocular Robotic Interventional and Surgical System), and features an OCT scanner that can generate a 3D readout of the structure of the eye.
My work within the project revolves mainly around the mechanisms used to perform the surgery or to control the robot. The first picture to the right depicts my design revolving around retinal surgery, with the mechanism sitting on the main plate able to perform retinal peeling. This project requires very tight tolerances and was designed with that in mind. It features only a compact slider and a servo to manipulate it, actuating a needle with micrometer precision to pinch the top layer of the retina within the eye.
Another project I've worked on within the lab is to create a surgical controller (third picture) which the operator can use to manually control the IRISS. I had to keep in mind the four degrees of freedom which the controller had to follow. There are two degrees of rotational motion I had to track to correspond to the table of the IRISS, linear motion to represent pushing the tool, and rotation about a tool's axis (to this end I employed E4T Optical Encoders). Motors were also incorporated to provide resistance during a procedure, simulating when the surgeon may be getting close to the walls of the eye.
I've had several more projects since then, working all the time to now, in my junior year (2020-2021). I've worked on several tool adapters to match a surgical tool to the IRISS (phaco tool adapter, AC polishing tool adapter, and IA handpiece). But one of my proudest projects that I've been a part of so far, was a custom 3-axis linear stage. I particularly enjoyed this project since there was more freedom, and all the moving parts were interesting to design.
The Mechatronics and Controls Laboratory has been a good experience for me since it gave me better intuition for designing on a smaller scale. Precision and accuracy are very important, and I gained good communication skills to present my ideas. The projects I work on are meaningful, and I thoroughly enjoy designing them for my team.