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Robust Path Planning via Learning from Demonstrations for Robotic Catheters in Deformable Environments

Zhen LiChiara LambranziDi Wu ...+4 Elena De Momi
Feb 2024
Navigation through tortuous and deformable vessels using catheters with limited steering capability underscores the need for reliable path planning. State-of-the-art path planners do not fully account for the deformable nature of the environment. This work proposes a robust path planner via a learning from demonstrations method, named Curriculum Generative Adversarial Imitation Learning (C-GAIL). This path planning framework takes into account the interaction between steerable catheters and vessel walls and the deformable property of vessels. In-silico comparative experiments show that the proposed network achieves smaller targeting errors, and a higher success rate, compared to a state-of-the-art approach based on GAIL. The in-vitro validation experiments demonstrate that the path generated by the proposed C-GAIL path planner aligns better with the actual steering capability of the pneumatic artificial muscle-driven catheter utilized in this study. Therefore, the proposed approach can provide enhanced support to the user in navigating the catheter towards the target with greater precision, in contrast to the conventional centerline-following technique. The targeting and tracking errors are 1.26$\pm$0.55mm and 5.18$\pm$3.48mm, respectively. The proposed path planning framework exhibits superior performance in managing uncertainty associated with vessel deformation, thereby resulting in lower tracking errors.
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