What robot for tomorrow and what improvement can we expect?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The purpose of this review is to summarize the status of robotic surgery currently, contextualizing the advances and improvements we can expect in the immediate future. Robotics continues to demonstrate increased utility and expansion in medicine, particularly surgery. When coupled with the imminent expiry of Intuitive patents in the next few years, it is timely to consider what we can expect to see from new platforms; what new features might we anticipate and what technology will be available to enhance and improve patient care.

Recent findings

There really are no limits with the anticipated developments in the field of medical robotics. Multiple large companies and academic institutions continue to invest in design and production with the release of a number of platforms already having occurred, whereas others are to come in the near future. The main anticipated advances will be haptic feedback, decreased cost, improved theatre assimilation with open consoles permitting free communication and lower theatre footprint. The robot patient interface is to be enhanced with single port platforms in production with a better interface including haptic feedback. The addition of NOTES and smarter flexible robotics is the next key area of interest, whereas the introduction of technology with image guidance and networking where large data sets or connectivity permit increased clinical acumen to enhance decision making.

Summary

We are at the cusp of a tipping point as the intellectual property for the first major robotic system in surgery comes to an end. It is likely to be a period of great opportunity with enhanced surgery and patient outcomes through significant innovation, multiple platforms nearing dissemination, with various technological advances. We anticipate this will yield a great period of innovation and diversity. Will we see a truly automated robot soon; the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robots are the limit.

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