Having an operation?
Don’t be surprised if the surgeon performs it from the room next door.
Indeed, he could even operate from halfway across the world — because these doctors are increasingly using robots to treat disease and injury.
‘These are incredibly exciting times,’ says Brian Davies, emeritus professor of medical robotics at Imperial College London and inventor of the surgical robot, which in April 1991 became the first in the world to remove tissue from a living human.
‘Robots can work much more accurately than human hands, which is fantastic now that we are seeking minimally invasive surgery through a tiny incision where precision is key,’ says Professor Davies.
Of course, the surgeon still performs the operation, but uses the robot to see inside the body, or operates it using a joystick or console so it’s like a spare arm — but without the human hand’s natural shake.
‘Medical robots are not like the sci-fi images of autonomous humanoids; they are sophisticated computer-assisted instruments that remain always under the surgeon’s control,’ says Dr Patrick Finlay, founder of medical robotics firm MediMaton.