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Current surgical robots provide no sense of touch and rely solely upon vision. This study evaluated the effect of new stereoscopic technology on the performance of robotic precision laparoscopy.Eight experienced laparoscopists with no experience in robotics performed five tasks of increasing complexity using a laparoscopic robot. The tasks were as follows: rope pass, paper cut, needle capping, knot tying and needle threading. Each test was performed ten times under both stereoscopic and monoscopic conditions. Performance times and errors were recorded.Mean(s.e.m.) final performance times were calculated from the final five trial times for each test, and were as follows for monoscopic and stereoscopic conditions respectively: rope pass 112·8(4·2) and 97·0(3·7) s (P = 0·013), paper cut 117·1(6·0) and 98·4(9·8) s (P = 0·020), needle capping 144·5(12·7) and 99·7(6·8) s (P = 0·008), knot tying 138·7(14·3) and 70·3(6·0) s (P = 0·002), and needle threading 210·8(28·2) and 92·3(4·1) s (P = 0·002). The mean(s.e.m.) number of errors per candidate was 60·6(7·8) and 20·8(3·9) under monoscopic and stereoscopic conditions respectively (P = 0·004).Stereoscopic vision provided a significant advantage during robotic laparoscopy in situations that required a precise understanding of structural orientation.