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Zhou awarded IRIACV Best Student Paper

Photo of Tian Zhou & certificate
Tian Zhou & IRIACV certificate
Photo of IRIACV Best Student Paper award
IRIACV Best Student Paper award
PhD student Tian Zhou has won a Best Student Paper award for a paper he co-authored with Assoc. Prof. Juan Wachs.

The Intelligent Robotics and Industrial Applications using Computer Vision Conference (IRIACV) gave the 2017 Best Student Paper award to Zhou for his work "Finding a needle in a haystack: Recognizing surgical instruments through vision and manipulation".


U.S. hospitals are facing great shortage of registered nurses, which could lead to an increment in mortality rate. One solution to this challenge is to bring Robotic Scrub Nurse (RSN) into the Operating Room (OR) to free nurses from mundane and repetitive tasks such as instrument delivery and retrieval.

As an important building block for RSN, this paper presents an accurate and robust surgical instrument recognition algorithm. Surgical instruments are often cluttered, occluded and display specular light, which causes a challenge for conventional recognition algorithms. A learning-through-interaction paradigm was proposed to tackle the challenge, which combines computer vision with robot manipulation and achieves active recognition. The unknown instrument is firstly segmented out as blobs and its poses estimated, then the RSN system picks it up and presents it to an optical sensor in a determined pose. Lastly the unknown instrument is recognized with high confidence.

Experiments were then conducted to evaluate the performance of the proposed segmentation and recognition algorithms, respectively. It is found out that the proposed patch-based segmentation algorithm and attention-based recognition algorithm greatly outperform their benchmark comparisons, proving the applicability and effectiveness of a RSN to perform accurate and robust surgical instrument recognition tasks.

The award is listed on the Electronic Imaging Conference webpage.

Watch Tian Zhou's video presentation of the paper.

IRIACV is part of the International Symposium on Electronic Imaging (EI), organized and sponsored by the Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T). Beginning with EI 2017, the 33-year-old Intelligent Robots and Computer Vision: Algorithms and Techniques Conference, and the nine-year-old Image Processing: Machine Vision Applications Conference, merged to form the Intelligent Robotics and Industrial Applications using Computer Vision (IRIACV) Conference. It took place Jan. 29 - Feb. 2, 2017, in San Francisco.