Professor Pietro VALDASTRI


Chair in Robotics & Autonomous Systems
University of Leeds
Pietro Valdastri is Full Professor and Chair in Robotics and Autonomous Systems at the University of Leeds. He directs the Science and Technologies Of Robotics in Medicine (STORM) Lab, focusing on intelligent robots to fight cancer, the Institute of Robotics, Autonomous System and Sensing (IRASS), and the Robotics at Leeds network. He received his Laurea degree in Electronic Engineering from the University of Pisa in 2001 and his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in 2006. After the PhD, he became Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna. In 2011, Prof Valdastri moved to Vanderbilt University as an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering until 2016, when he relocated to Leeds. He has published more than 150 peer reviewed journal papers in the field of medical robotics and has been principal investigator on grants in excess of $24M supported by NSF, NIH, ERC, EU-H2020, Cancer Research UK, The Royal Society, EPSRC, Innovate UK and industry, including the NSF CAREER Award with the proposal “Lifesaving Capsule Robots” in 2015, the ERC Consolidator Grant Award with the proposal “NoLiMiTs – Novel Lifesaving Magnetic Tentacles” in 2019, and the KUKA Innovation Award for his robotic colonoscopy platform in 2019. Prof. Valdastri is a Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellow, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Editor for Medical and Rehabilitation Robotics of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, and a member of the steering committee of the International Society for Medical Innovation and Technology (iSMIT). STORM Lab’s research has been featured by several news outlets, including the BBC, The Times, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, New Scientist, The Spectator, WIRED, IEEE Spectrum, Medgadget, Daily Mail, The Engineer, Ingenia Magazine, Medical Design Technology Magazine, Medical Xpress, Newswise, NSF Science Now. Prof Valdastri also completed a successful entrepreneurial cycle with WinMedical s.r.l., a company he co-founded in 2009 and that was acquired by a larger enterprise in 2017. He recently started a new company, Atlas Endoscopy Limited, to bring his robotic colonoscopy platform to patients.

Medical Capsule Robots: a fantastic voyage

At the beginning of the new millennia, wireless capsule endoscopy was introduced as a minimally invasive method of inspecting the digestive tract. The possibility of collecting images deep inside the human body just by swallowing a “pill” revolutionized the field of gastrointestinal endoscopy and sparked a brand-new field of research in robotics: medical capsule robots. These are self-contained robots that leverage extreme miniaturization to access and operate in environments that are out of reach for larger devices. In medicine, capsule robots can enter the human body through natural orifices or small incisions, and detect and cure life-threatening diseases in a non-invasive manner. This talk will provide a perspective on how this field has evolved in the last ten year. We will explore what was accomplished, what has failed, and what were the lessons learned. We will also discuss enabling technologies, intelligent control, possible levels of computer assistance, and highlight future challenges in this ongoing Fantastic Voyage