September 8, 2014
JPL delivered a functional prototype of 3D-MARVEL (Multi-Angle Rear-Viewing Endoscopic) to the Skull Base Institute in 2013. It was developed for minimally invasive neurosurgery.
This unique tool incorporates possibly the world's smallest HD-capable stereo camera at its tip, which can be steered from side-to-side affording a panoramic view of the surgical environment. The outer diameter of the endoscope is less than 4 mm, with its camera being less than 3 mm in diameter. This single-lens system employs dual apertures with complementary multiband pass filters to create two time-multiplexed viewpoints of an object to produce stereo images. A new light source was developed to produce continuously cycling illumination bands to be incident upon the object of interest. A tightly packed fiber optic array transports these illumination bands to the front of the camera. A CMOS image sensor captures stereo images. The stereo camera is welded to a bending section to enable side-to-side steering (designed for ±60°) using a cable-pulley arrangement that is controlled by a JPL-designed actuation system.