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Jiaqi Xu edited this page Aug 31, 2021 · 105 revisions


The da Vinci Research Kit (dVRK) is an “open-source mechatronics” system, consisting of electronics, firmware, and software that is being used to control research systems based on the now retired first-generation da Vinci system from Intuitive Surgical Inc. The da Vinci system is designed for Robot-Assisted Minimally Invasive Surgery (RAMIS).

Full da Vinci system with dVRK controllers at the Johns Hopkins University (LCSR)

The sawIntuitiveResearchKit folder provides several example applications for controlling the Research Kit for the da Vinci System using the IEEE-1394 (FireWire) controller. The picture above shows a full da Vinci system at JHU that uses the dVRK controllers.

Credit / Citation

If you use the dVRK in your research, please cite the following paper:

P. Kazanzides, Z. Chen, A. Deguet, G. S. Fischer, R. H. Taylor, and S. P. DiMaio, “An open-source research kit for the da Vinci(R) surgical system,” in IEEE Intl. Conf. on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2014, pp. 6434–6439. BibTeX

For posters and videos, please include the dVRK logo if possible.



Core Software

The software applications use some or all of the following cisst/SAW components (and Qt widgets):

Github build status Ubuntu 16.04 ROS Kinetic Ubuntu 18.04 ROS Melodic Ubuntu 20.04 ROS NoeticmacOS 10.15

The components are cross-platform, except for mtsRobotIO1394, which relies on a low-level IEEE-1394 interface library (libraw1394) that is primarily available on Linux. Thus, the build instructions focus on Linux. For setting up the FireWire interface on Linux, see this page. Note: This will change with dVRK Software Version 2.0 and Firmware Rev 7, which will add support for Ethernet (UDP or Raw).

A ROS interface is available via mtsROSBridge base class and dVRK ROS programs and files.

Software Ecosystem

Several groups have developed software modules that integrate with the dVRK and may be useful to others in the community. Many of these software modules use ROS to interface to the dVRK.


  • Asynchronous Multi-Body Framework (AMBF) - dynamic simulator developed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI); includes models of the dVRK manipulators and interfaces to the dVRK hardware (e.g., to use MTMs as input devices).
  • V-Rep Simulator for the dVRK - V-Rep simulator developed at University of Naples.
  • ATAR - Bullet based dynamic simulator developed at Politecnico di Milano.

Machine Learning

  • dVRL - reinforcement learning environment, based on V-Rep, developed at University of California, San Diego.
  • AMBF-RL - reinforcement learning environment, based on AMBF, developed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).
  • UnityFlexML - machine learning environment, based on Unity 3D, developed at University of Verona.
  • SurRoL - reinforcement learning environment, based on PyBullet, developed at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Mixed Reality

  • dVRK-XR - mixed reality visualization, based on Unity 3D, developed at Johns Hopkins University; interfaces to dVRK via UDP or ROS.

High Level Control

Data Recording/Playback

Autonomous Camera Control

  • autocamera - autonomous camera control developed at Wayne State University.

Computer Vision - TBD

  • Instrument tracking
  • Stereo reconstruction



Firmware version 6 or 7 is now required (dVRK 2.0+), please upgrade your firmware to 7 unless you want to use the software versions 1.7.x and 2.x simultaneously. Version 7 adds support for Ethernet/UDP for FPGA 2+ and many other changes. See for step-by-step instructions to upgrade your firmware.


  • August 2021: Version 2.1.0 released:
  • April 2021: Version 2.0.0 released
  • July 2019: Version 1.7.1 released
  • April 2019: Version 1.7.0 released
  • May 2018: Version 1.6.0 released
  • November 2017: Version 1.5.0 released
  • August 2016: Version 1.4.0 released
  • January 2016: Version 1.3.0 released
  • October 2015: Version 1.2.0 released
  • April 2015: Version 1.1.0 released
  • April 2014: Moved to GitHub
  • May 2013: Initial Public Release


The cisst software has been developed with the support of the National Science Foundation, EEC 9731748, EEC 0646678, and MRI 0722943.

The da Vinci Research Kit was supported by the National Science Foundation, via the National Robotics Initiative (NRI), as part of the collaborative research project "Software Framework for Research in Semi-Autonomous Teleoperation" between The Johns Hopkins University (IIS 1637789, 2016-2020), Worcester Polytechnic Institute (IIS 1637759, 2016-2021), and the University of Washington (IIS 1637444, 2016-2020).

The dVRK Consortium, based at JHU, has been organized by members of the dVRK community to provide technical support.

The National Science Foundation is supporting a network of networks, including the dVRK network, via the AccelNet program, as part of the collaborative project "International Collaboration to Accelerate Research in Robotic Surgery" led by The Johns Hopkins University (OISE 1927354, 2019-2024) and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (OISE 1927275, 2019-2024).

Starting with Version 2.0.0, the dVRK software has also been supported by the Multi-Scale Medical Robotics Center (MRC), InnoHK, Hong Kong, China.

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