This paper describes the design, analysis, and experimental validation of a novel minimally invasive instrument for lung tumor localization. The instrument end effector is a two-degree of freedom lung tissue palpator. It allows for optimal tissue palpation to increase useful sensor feedback by ensuring sensor contact, and prevents tissue damage by uniformly distributing pressure on the tissue. Finite element analysis was used to guide the design process, resulting in a final design that could achieve a factor of safety of 4 for a 20 N force acting on the end effector—the approximate weight of a human lung. Validation experiments were conducted on a prototype instrument to assess its articulation and load-carrying capacity. The end effector design allows for the inclusion of ultrasound, tactile, and kinesthetic sensors. It is expected that this device will form the basis for robotics-assisted palpation and increase the likelihood of positive tumor localization.

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