Abstract: Due to their small size and ability to follow nonlinear paths, concentric tube continuum robots might offer new opportunities for minimally invasive surgery. Currently, several research groups in this relatively young field are working on early-stage prototypes to develop technologies and methodologies to realize this envisioned application. To date, a large variety of different prototypes exists across the individual research groups. In this paper, current habits of the research community are investigated that cause such a proliferation of many different prototypes. System thinking tools are applied to provide an indepth analysis of the dynamics between publication pressure and developing prototypes. According to a gathered data set based on 139 publications in this research field, 53.2 % of the publications include a robot-based evaluation. However, 61.1 % of 36 prototypes are only used in one publication, indicating a low prototype reuse rate. As a result, a lot of time is devoted to create prototypes which hinders the development of a robotic platform. Such a robotic platform can leverage the whole research community by focusing efforts on the main research challenges.
Keywords: Continuum Robotics, Concentric Tube Continuum Robot, Research Community, Prototype, Meta-Analysis, System Thinking, Retrospective