Degree Show 2018

Matthew Barty

  • 16 LDS - Course Representative
  • 17 Kinneir Dufort - Human Factors Researcher
  • 18 Cambridge Medical Robotics - HF Graduate
  • 18 Diploma in Professional Studies
  • 17 Year in industry certificate

Final Year Project

An investigation into end-user expectations and concerns regarding the prospect of computer-aided robotics in root canal therapy

Computer-aided (CAR) robotics in medicine has seen use primarily in intensive surgical procedures, namely laparoscopic surgery. It boasts notable improvements in ergonomics, surgical performance, and patient outcomes. If a CAR system were to be developed for Root Canal Therapy (RCT), what end-user considerations need to be taken into account when developing such a system?

Between the years 2000 to 2014, over 1.75 million robotic procedures were performed in the United States across various surgical specialties. In certain surgical fields roboticassisted surgery has already overtaken traditional open surgery techniques, for example; prostatectomies in the field of Urology. Robotics in medicine had since poised itself to change the nature of surgery forever.

Robotics, although a relatively young branch of medicine, has seen enormous strides in recent years – with widespread application in several medical disciplines including patient care, rehabilitation and particularly surgery. Modern technology has brought CAR in medicine out of obscurity and into reality, and is today considered a real market opportunity with immense potential across industries.


The purpose of this dissertation is to provide evidence to guide the early-stage development of a CAR system for root canal therapy procedures in dentistry, based on end-user expectations and concerns. The data collected is intended to be translated into top-level, technical and social, end-user requirements that would directly influence the system’s design and technical capabilities in future development stages.


The end-user requirements were intended to be built on a conscious understanding of the technical and social requirements of the market – with the ‘technical’ referring to the practical expectations of the system, and the ‘social’ referring to the acceptability and reception of the system by its end-users.

Data was collected from two end-user groups; ‘Dental Professionals’ and ‘Patients’ (lay-users). The data from the dental professionals consisted of both technical and social data and was collected via one-to-one interviews, whilst the patient data consisted of exclusively social data and was collected via an online survey. In total 4 dental professionals were interviewed, and 118 patients were surveyed.


Overall, the prospect of introducing a CAR system into RCT procedures was met with positive feedback, with 72% of patient respondents giving exclusively positive comments, and 75% of dental professionals stating that such a system would be of benefit to them.

Qualitative feedback, from both end-users, was translated into a set of top-level technical and social end-user requirements which later fed into the design and illustration of a proposed design solution.

In future should the project continue - the next phase would involve developing and producing a tangible ‘proof-of-concept’ model that is robust enough to undergo usability trials with a larger sample of representative user groups.