The research and development for Riverfield’s products is principally conducted by the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU).
Development builds upon years of accumulated research conducted by the Kawashima and Tadano laboratories at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
With capital and collaboration from Toray Engineering, and in a capital alliance with JAFCO and other venture capital firms, the firm develops and manufactures products to exacting quality and safety control standards.
Riverfield was founded to bring the full advantages of Japan’s outstanding manufacturing craftsmanship to the design of surgical assist robots. The firm strives to broadly contribute to the medical industry, and more specifically, to develop revolutionary products that will boost the level of medical care globally.
In 2015, just a little over a year since its founding, Riverfield succeeded in delivering EMARO, the world’s first pneumatically driven endoscope manipulator robot. This was the fruit of more than10 years of R&D by the Tokyo Institute of Technology and TMDU into pneumatically driven master-slave surgical assist robots.（History of prototype）
This surgical assist robot is controlled by the surgeon, who uses a console to operate the manipulator inserted into the patient’s body. Pneumatic control offers various advantages in the surgical environment, enabling the surgeon to detect force sensation without force sensors. It allows force to be controlled precisely and also features a simplified design, for a lighter weight, more compact robot.
The firm’s current focus is on the development of a pneumatically driven robotic forceps system. These surgical assist robots, which can be more delicately and subtly controlled than conventional robotic systems, are expected to pioneer a new future for the medical industry.
Delivering surgical assist robots crafted in Japan to the world, Riverfield will continue to grow with the speed and flexibility of a university-born venture firm as we strive continuously to improve and enhance the field of medical technology.
This product cannot be sold or given because it is not approved by the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Act.
Drive the robotics by pneumatics
As a university-launched venture, the Company is developing medical robots with the technologies cultivated in the university. Of the Company’s technologies, the technology for close control of pneumaric pressure is particularly important.
One of the characteristics of pneumatic pressure is “compressibility.” When pressure is applied, the volume will shrink, and when pressure is removed, the volume will return to the original state. The application of this flexibility is expected to realize a robot that is safe even in case of contact with a man. Meanwhile, the softness of air gives rise to an issue of difficulty in realizing such a motion of robots as “Stop at an exact position.” For this reason, pneumatic cylinders have so far been used for simple movements such as reciprocating between predetermined two points.
Mechanism of the pneumatic servo system
Continuing to brush up the technology of “pneumatic servo system,” which is driven by air and accurately controls mechanical systems, in cooperation of industry and university, the Company has realized both precise positioning and fine pressure control of pneumatic robots.
The pneumatic servo system is comprised of a cylinder, position sensor, pressure sensor, valve, etc. The pneumatic cylinder has a piston like an injector inside (Fig. 1) and is driven by pneumatic pressure generated by compressed air sent to the cylinder.
In order to realize precise movement with the pneumatic cylinder, feedback control is applied using the pressure sensor and the position sensor. The cylinder can be moved freely to an arbitrary extent by adjusting the amount of air sent into the pneumatic cylinder according to the error between the target position / pressure and the position / pressure measured with the sensor.
Technology of “force sense estimation”
We are also developing the technology of “force sense estimation” using pneumatic pressure. This technology can estimate the force applied to the robot’s fingers without using a force measuring sensor (Fig. 2). When a force is applied to the cylinder rod, the pressure inside the cylinder will vary. By catching such variation of pressure with the pressure sensor. the pressure value is converted into the force applied to robot fingers in consideration of the robot structure, etc.
Safety and quality
Quality management system
We have acquired the certification of “ISO 13485:2016,” an international standard for the quality management system of medical devices. We continue to contribute to medical practice through design / development / manufacture / post-marketing safety management, etc. for safe and useful quality products.
About ISO 13485
ISO 13485 has been adopted by the laws and regulations concerning medical devices in the world countries including Japan and provides requirements for securing the quality, validity, safety, etc. of products for each process of quality management system for medical devices (design and development, manufacturing, post-marketing safety management, servicing activities, corrective and preventive actions, purchase management, document control, etc.).