While the use of robots in surgery has come a long way with the advent of the da Vinci Surgical System. However, current technology still requires a human mind to operate successfully. The most difficult aspect of building a self sustaining surgical robot is creating a robot with the ability to respond to its changing environment. A small part of that challenge is dealing with a pumping heart and a heaving chest during surgery. These small movements may differ per patient per surgery. Within those variables, the movements are predictable. Flight simulation technology is being used to mimic the movement of breathing to improve the ability of surgical robots.
Looking at the bigger picture, could robots replace surgeons? Due to the unpredictable nature of a surgical environment, Ken Goldberg, a UC Berkeley IEOR professor working on this system, says “I don’t think we’ll ever replace surgeons. I don’t want to overstate thisat all, but I think it’s a step toward being able to do more subtasks in a more realistic setting.” Their focus is to create a robot that would assist human surgeons to help support a human’s incapability such as performing non-invasive heart surgery through a small incision. For now, robots still remain an assistive tool for surgeons to utilize.