In order to pursue the goal of reducing trauma in minimally invasive surgeries, flexible surgical instruments are required. Such instruments [1] can approach the surgical target through several confined incisions (laparoscopy) or only one incision (single-incision laparoscopic surgery) on the abdomen, and some even follow the curvature of natural anatomical path (natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) and flexible endoscopy).

A cable-driven sliding joint is often the basic element used for the flexible structure of surgical instruments [2]. However, cable slack is a serious problem, which reduces the joint bending stiffness. A mechatronic joint designed for application on NOTES [3] showed a maximum variation of the path length 0.63 mm, corresponding to backlash of 4.7 deg at the end of the range of motion of the joint. Bardou et al. [4] used external sensor, Ott et al. [5] used visual...

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