Hunter B. Gilbert


Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering


Innovation in Control and Robotics Engineering Lab Website

Educational Background

Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Vanderbilt University, 2016

B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Rice University, 2010

Research Interests

  • Robotics and autonomous systems
  • Medical devices
  • Flexible and soft robots

The development of sophisticated surgical devices, including surgical robots, has recently enabled many new minimally invasive procedures. My research group focuses on creating devices and systems that enable new and improved medical procedures. This is accomplished by defining a clinical need in collaboration with medical professionals and then engineering a solution, which often involves mechanical design, robotic system integration, and medical imaging and sensing.

I am also interested generally in the design, control, and analysis of flexible and soft robotic manipulators. These deformable structures have the ability to mechanically adapt to their environment, trading some of the precision and stability of a rigid mechanism for increased robustness and safety. Some existing medical devices, such as endoscopes and catheters, fall into the category of flexible mechanisms. Soft and flexible robots present several unique research challenges in the areas of design and control, such as the possibility of mechanical instabilities and the increased uncertainty in models of the robot’s shape.

Selected Publications

  1. H. B. Gilbert and R. J. Webster III, “Rapid, Reliable Shape Setting of Superelastic Nitinol for Prototyping Robots”, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 98–105, 2016.
  2. H. B. Gilbert, R. J. Hendrick, and R. J. Webster III, “Elastic Stability of Concentric Tube Robots: A Stability Measure and Design Test”, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 20–35, 2016.
  3. H. B. Gilbert, D. C. Rucker, and R. J. Webster III, “Concentric Tube Robots: The State of the Art and Future Directions”, in Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics, 16th ed., vol. 114, Springer International Publishing, 2016, pp. 253-269.
  4. H. B. Gilbert, J. Neimat, and R. J. Webster III, “Concentric Tube Robots as Steerable Needles: Achieving Follow-The-Leader Deployment”, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 264–258, 2015.
  5. P. J. Swaney, H. B. Gilbert, R. J. Webster III, P. T. Russell III, and K. D. Weaver, “Endonasal Skull Base Tumor Removal Using Concentric Tube Continuum Robots: A Phantom Study”, Journal of Neurological Surgery Part B: Skull Base, vol. 76, no. 2, pp. 145–149, 2015.
  6. R. Wirz, L. Torres, P. J. Swaney, H. B. Gilbert, R. Alterovitz, R. J. Webster III, K. D. Weaver, and P. T. Russell III, “An experimental feasibility study on robotic endonasal telesurgery”, Neurosurgery, vol. 76, no. 4, pp. 479–484, 2015.
  7. J Burgner, D. C. Rucker, H. B. Gilbert, P. J. Swaney, P. T. Russell III, K. D. Weaver, and R. J. Webster III, “A Telerobotic System for Transnasal Surgery”, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, vol. 19, pp. 996–1006, 2014.
  8. D. C. Rucker, J. Das, H. B. Gilbert, P. J. Swaney, M. I. Miga, N. Sarkar, and R. J. Webster III, “Sliding Mode Control of Steerable Needles”, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 29, pp. 1289–1299, 2013.
  9. P. J. Swaney, J. Burgner, H. B. Gilbert, and R. J. Webster III, “A Flexure-Based Steerable Needle: High Curvature with Reduced Tissue Damage”, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, vol. 60, pp. 906–909, 2013.