Dr. Naish's research involves the application of mechatronic principles to the design and development of systems and devices. Applying his background in both engineering and computer science, he is able to address highly interdisciplinary research in the areas of mechatonics, multisensor systems, robotics, design, and intelligent systems.

Dr. Naish is the director of the Sensing and Mechatronic Systems Laboratory (SaMS Lab) at Western. His early research includes the development of a multisensor integration architecture for the design of sensing systems targeted at natural product classification, modeling and optimization methods for sensor selection and methods for the dynamic reconfiguration of sensors for robust data acquisition. Recent efforts have focused on the development of sensing systems built from reconfigurable modular components. Current SaMS Lab projects include:

Modular Active Vision System: This project involves the development of a real-time omnidirectional active vision system that is able to monitor multiple targets moving within an open environment. By combining omnidirectional and active pan-tilt cameras, a robust vision system is created that builds on the strengths of each camera type. The system can be easily configured to independently track several targets of interest within the environment. The novel design allows the camera modules to be stacked, creating a vertical sensor structure. Beneficial features of the design include allowing simple peripherally-guided active vision, depth perception and a near spherical composite omnidirectional field of view. By having the active cameras rotate around the outer perimeter, they can attain complete spherical access to the environment. Applications for this modular system range from simple mobile robot navigation to complex multi-target tracking and surveillance. Using this platform, the current focus is on the development of algorithms to allocate camera resources to rapidly identify multiple targets that outnumber the active cameras.

Adaptive Modular Sensing System: A general set of building blocks that will enable the construction of various sensor and actuator combinations is currently under development. A hardware architecture allows the development of a general set of Transducer Interface Modules (TIMs). Each TIM is interfaced with a sensor or actuator and contains embedded knowledge about its capabilities. Specially-designed mechanical and electrical connectors allow the TIMs to be easily combined in various configurations to accomplish a variety of tasks. Logical algorithms govern the behaviour of a given set of modules, providing them with intelligence and enabling them to behave as a single entity known as a logical module. A distributed software architecture supports the module functionality and allows configuration-specific algorithms to be automatically loaded into each module.

In ongoing work at CSTAR, Dr. Naish is developing tools and systems that will help clinicians and surgeons deliver an improved standard of care to patients. The majority of the work related to medical devices and robotics at CSTAR focuses on minimally invasive surgery (MIS). MIS is practiced through small incisions (typically less than 1 cm across) as an alternative to traditional open surgery. The restricted access requires the use of long, thin instruments. The surgical site is observed using an endoscope (camera). While MIS reduces patient trauma and affords faster recovery, it presents many challenges to the surgeon including motion scaling, reduced visibility and impaired feel. The interdisciplinary work at CSTAR involves clinicians and engineers to develop techniques and devices to mitigate the shortcomings of current MIS practice. Current projects at CSTAR include:

Palpation for Tumour Localization in MIS (with R.V. Patel and R.A. Malthaner MD): This project is concerned with the development of haptic/tactile tumour localization devices that are suitable for MIS. Initial work assessed the suitability of using kinaesthetic feedback to reliably distinguish between the presence and absence of simulated tumours. From this, the force and resolution requirements for a pressure-sensitive tactile array were determined. A palpation device that provides tactile feedback was designed. The suitability of this device has been evaluated against the current standard of care (direct finger palpation and laparoscopic ultrasound) with promising results. Additionally, a robot operating under hybrid force/position control has been employed to produce more consistent results than are currently possible under human manipulation. Current efforts involve the development of a second-generation palpation instrument, which will combine multiple sensing modalities to improve accuracy and the ability to articulate the transducers to better accommodate a variety of tissue presentations.

Sensorized Laparoscopic Tools for MIS Training and Skills Assessment (Dr. R.V. Patel and C.M. Schlachta MD): In an effort to improve the training and assessment of surgeons for MIS, this project has resulted in hand-held sensorized laparoscopic tools that can operate in standard laparoscopic trainers or animal labs. They allow for the use of standard interchangeable tips and can provide real-time information about the tool tip position and the forces and torques acting on the instrument. Using these instruments, the performance "signatures" of skilled surgeons completing standard tasks can be objectively compared to those of trainees. Additionally, this system may be used to provide trainees with real-time feedback to accelerate skill development.

An Optimal Planning Strategy for Robot-Assisted Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery (with R.V. Patel, B. Kiaii MD, T. Peters, I. Ross MD, D. Bainbridge MD): The aim of this project is to develop a surgical planning system for robot-assisted minimally invasive cardiac surgery. This involves the development of patient-specific thorax models that reflect intraoperative conditions; the development of a graphics-based simulation environment for the surgical robot; generation of patient selection measures and algorithms for minimally invasive cardiac surgery; and the development of performance measures for minimally invasive surgical robots and their application in the placement of entry ports for MIS tools. The end result will be a comprehensive optimal planning strategy that will result in more efficient planning of cardiac surgery by determining patient suitability and optimal port locations.

Design of a Robot for Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES) (with R.V. Patel and C.M. Schlachta MD): Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES) has been proposed as the next evolution in surgery using natural orifices (e.g., mouth) as entry points for surgery in the abdomen. In addition to the advantages of traditional MIS, NOTES does not leave any visible scars on the body. The purpose of this research is to develop a two-arm mechatronic system that allows clinicians to suture effectively under the constraints present in NOTES. The two instrument arms will be controlled by the clinician through the use of master laparoscopic instruments built from conventional instruments.

In another application of mechatronic device development and sensing systems research, Dr. Naish is a member of the Planetary Science Research Group (PSRG) at Western. The PSRG comprises researchers from the Faculties of Science, Engineering and Social Science involved in space-oriented research. Dr. Naish has recently become involved in the development of robotic material handling systems for the analysis of extraterrestrial samples. The challenges presented by the design and control of teleoperated dexterous manipulators capabilities offer extensive research opportunities.

In all, Dr. Naish's research explores the development of mechatronic systems that utilize sensing to improve perception and enhance performance. While the application areas span manufacturing, surveillance and security systems, medical devices and robotics, and soon space systems, the underlying engineering research shares much in common.

Information about current opportunities for graduate studies may be found here.