• The da Vinci
    Research Kit

Overview of the dVRK Community

The dVRK (da Vinci Research Kit) is a community effort to support research in the field of telerobotic surgery. The Intuitive Foundation is excited to support this effort by sponsoring hardware from retired first-generation da Vinci Surgical Systems that can be used to assemble research platforms for exploring innovative new concepts in minimally-invasive surgery. This shared research platform supports collaboration across university groups in order to stimulate and accelerate research in the field.

At present, there are da Vinci Research Kits at over thirty universities in ten countries worldwide. These kits support a broad range of research from the exploration of innovative new ways of performing information- and image-guided surgery to developing novel surgical instrumentation, intuitive user interfaces, and even to study futuristic surgical task automation methods and their potential impacts.

The Intuitive Foundation aims to support this vibrant community of researchers by expanding access to capable research platforms in order to foster collaboration and efficient translation of ideas from research to practice. The da Vinci Research Kit contains several of the fundamental components of a robot-assisted minimally-invasive surgery system. These components include instrument manipulators as well as surgeon interface elements such as a stereo viewer, hand and foot-pedal controls. These components can be combined to build a functional telerobotic surgery system that can be customized for non-clinical research. The dVRK should not be considered a turnkey system. Rather, it is a series of building blocks that multi-disciplinary engineering teams can use to build and test research prototypes.

There are currently two dVRK community wiki sites:

Eligibility, Conditions, and Application guidelines

Eligibility and Conditions:

  1. Non-profit education and research institutions are eligible to apply for dVRK hardware and support.
  2. Hardware may not be available in all geographic regions, due to import restrictions.
  3. Donated equipment is “Not for Clinical Use” and must not be placed in a hospital operating room for use with human patients.
  4. Grantees agree to keep donated hardware at the awarded institution, unless authorized in writing by the Foundation to move the hardware to a new institution.
  5. The research team should possess hardware and software engineering capabilities and resources to build and maintain a complex research platform.
  6. Teams with a demonstrated track record of leveraging and contributing to shared resources and open-source communities are prioritized.
  7. Grantees agree in good faith to participate in annual Principal Investigator meetings and community events. These are typically hosted at popular robotics conferences.

Getting started:

  1. Tell us more about your project, so that we can help you to determine if the dVRK is the right research platform for you. Fill out a research proposal so that we can review, and then start a conversation with your team. If it is a good fit, the next step is getting the da Vinci hardware. With the hardware comes the instructions to help you to set up, and maintain your da Vinci research kit. Note that hardware may not be available in all geographic regions, due to import restrictions.
  2. Get controller electronics. The controller design is open source, so you can build this yourself, or purchase pre-built hardware. https://github.com/jhu-dvrk/sawIntuitiveResearchKit/wiki/Hardware#13-controllers
  3. Go to GitHub for instructions on setting up a host PC, on compiling software, and for developing custom applications on top of a common open-source software framework.
  4. Contribute back! The community thrives on collaboration, shared code, tips and tricks, and peer-to-peer support.

Please email dvrk@intuitive-foundation.org with questions regarding the application process.