Medical robots: the development status and application prospects of the second largest robot in the future

AsiaIndustrial NetNews: According to Boston Consulting Group’s projections, the annual medicalRobotIts revenue is $4 billion and will reach $11.4 billion in 2020, making it the second largest robotics market. This article is the first article of the medical Robot topic launched by Xinzhizao, combing the historical development trajectory of medical robots, so as to spy on the infinite possibilities of the future market. As a column of, Xinzhizao focuses on innovation and creation in the era of intelligence, with the goal of finding opportunities worthy of entrepreneurship and investment. In the future, we will also bring more reports on medical robots such as industry players, capital and start-ups, so stay tuned.

The term medical Robot can be a bit misleading, conjuring images of machines that operate preprogrammed tasks independently, without supervision.Such applications areindustryIt is very popular on the Internet, but human skills are also very important when dealing with human tasks.

It is generally believed that medical robots should be medical devices, but they are different from medical devices. It can assist doctors, expand their capabilities, and the level of intelligence will continue to grow. At the same time, it must meet the following three aspects: medical, clinical adaptability, and good interactivity.

Medical robots have only begun to be used in recent decades, but their presence is dramatically increasing.

Lei has reported that according to Boston Consulting Group’s estimates, the annual revenue of medical robots is now $4 billion, and will reach $11.4 billion in 2020. The most well-known medical robotics company, Intuitive Surgical, had revenue of $2.1 billion in 2014. Thanks to the rapid growth of medical robots, commercial robots will replace military robots in the future and become the second largest robot market, with a market value of $17 billion.

There are many reasons why the medical industry is interested in robotics, which can be related to the adoption of robots in the manufacturing industry.automationmechanicalreasons for comparison. This is not to say that medical robots solve the same problems, but the benefits are undoubtedly similar. The benefits of robots to the industry may be more than the most professional and hard-working medical workers, mainly including speed, accuracy, repeatability, reliability and cost-effectiveness. A robot will never tire no matter how long it is used, and it will be as accurate on its hundredth use as on its first use.

At present, medical robots are mainly divided into the following categories:

Surgical robot: It can be used for surgical image guidance and minimally invasive surgery, most of which are controlled by the surgeon, the doctor masters the input device, and the robot operates on the patient according to the instructions.

Rehabilitation Robot: Used to assist and treat elderly, permanently or temporarily disabled patients, and people with limited mobility, the user controls the robot through visual feedback and various input devices to perform simple tasks, such as putting food in the mouth, or turning a book , or standing and walking, etc.

Medical service robots: The common form is transport-type mobile robots in hospitals, used to take medicine or distribute medicines, as well as disinfection and sterilization robots, etc., which can solve the problem of short supply of hospital staff and share some heavy and tedious work.

Laboratory robots: used to perform this drug or perform repetitive experiments, such as HIV testing, save time and free up manpower for other purposes, mainly due to the ability to perform repetitive tasks in a high-speed, reliable and fatigue-free manner.

Of course, the above classification does not necessarily cover all medical robots. There are also emotional robots used for companionship, which can help treat dementia and cognitive impairment, and can also be used for rehabilitation-type home care.

According to statistics, surgical robots currently account for the highest proportion, at more than 60%. This is mainly due to its early development, and its practicality and effect are the most significant. However, with the development of robotics and artificial intelligence-like technologies, rehabilitation and service robots are also catching up. In the following, Lei will focus on the history of surgical robots.

Medical robots: the development status and application prospects of the second largest robot in the future

The origin of a technology is often rooted in the strengths and weaknesses of its predecessor, and in the case of surgical machines, the former is laparoscopic surgery.

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Laparoscopic devices by themselves do not provide tactile feedback (force and touch), nor do they allow for natural hand-eye coordination and dexterity. It is also somewhat counterintuitive to move laparoscopic instruments while watching a 2D video monitor. In addition, the instrument should be moved in the opposite direction to the target aimed at on the Display during operation. These make it difficult to exert the advantages of laparoscopy, and in order to overcome these limitations, the development of surgical robots has been promoted.

The first use of a surgical robot, the PUMA 560 in 1985, allowed precise control of neurosurgical biopsies. Three years later, in 1988, PUMA 560 was used in prostate surgery. This system also led to the emergence of PROBOT, a system specifically designed for prostate surgery.

At the same time that PROBOT was being developed, Integrated Surgical Supplies was also developing another robot. ROBODOC was born in 1992, this robot can assist surgeons in total hip replacement surgery, it is also the first FDA-approved surgical robot.

Also in the mid-to-late 1980s, a group of members of NASA’s Ames Research Center, while working on virtual reality technology, became interested in using it to develop telepresence surgery. This concept of telesurgery has also become one of the main driving forces behind the development of surgical robots.

In the early 1990s, several scientists from Ames’ team joined SRI at Stanford Research Institute. Working with other robotics and virtual reality experts at SRI, the researchers developed a dexterous telesurgery manipulator for surgery. One of their main design goals was to give the surgeon the feel of operating directly on the patient, rather than operating in another room.

Several general surgeons and endoscopists joined the development team in developing these robots and realized that these systems had great potential to improve the limitations of conventional laparoscopic surgery.

On the other hand, the U.S. military has also noticed the work of SRI and is interested in the possibility of reducing wartime mortality by “bringing surgeons to wounded soldiers” through telepresence. Funded by the U.S. military, researchers have designed a system in which wounded soldiers are placed into vehicles equipped with robotic surgical equipment, and then operated remotely by surgeons at the nearby Mobile Advanced Surgery Hospital (MASH).

The highly anticipated system is likely to prevent soldiers from excessive blood loss before reaching the hospital, thereby reducing wartime mortality. The system has been successful in animal models but has not been tested in actual battlefield casualty care.

Later, several surgeons and engineers developing surgical robotic systems in the U.S. military formed a commercial company, Computer Motion, and began to introduce robotics into civilian surgery. Notably, the company received seed funding from the U.S. military and developed the Automated Endoscope Optimized Positioning System (AESOP), a robotic arm controlled by a surgeon to maneuver an endoscopic camera.

Shortly after AESOP went public, Integrated Surgical Systems (now Intuitive Surgical) licensed the SRI Green Telepresence Surgery system. They then extensively redesigned the system, which eventually became the da Vinci Surgical System. In 2000, the da Vinci Robot received FDA approval as the first comprehensive robotic system for laparoscopic surgery.

The da Vinci surgical system mainly includes three parts: the surgical console, the control system and the robotic arm. The doctor sits on the operating console and makes corresponding instructions to the computer, the camera prompts the corresponding situation in the human body, and the doctor makes surgical decisions based on the feedback information.

Within a year of Da Vinci’s birth, Computer Motion’s Zeus system also went into production. The development of the surgical robot system for a period of time since then was basically dominated by the above two companies. Then in 2003, Intuitive Surgical acquired Computer Motion, and the Zeus system was no longer actively sold.

Medical robots: the development status and application prospects of the second largest robot in the future

As with the development of surgery, other types of robotics, such as prosthetics and exoskeletons, have also made huge strides.

General Electric developed the first exoskeleton device in the 1960s. It’s called the Hardiman, and it’s a wearable device with a hydraulic and electric body. It is too heavy for military use. Now a series of companies such as ReWalk have emerged in this field.


With the help of a robotic exoskeleton, stroke patients can regain arm movement faster than with traditional physical therapy. Sensors detect muscle strength, range of motion, and brain activity, and can also inform therapists about the patient’s progress. Such machines also help retrain the brain so that healthy areas can compensate for damaged areas. The robotic system also helps patients relearn walking and other motor skills.

Artificial knee joints equipped with microprocessors began to enter the market in 1993. In 1998, Adaptive Prosthesis combined microprocessors with hydraulic and pneumatic controls to give prosthetics a more natural walking ability and greater responsiveness to changes in walking speed. At the same time, the C-Leg, which debuted in 1997, further enhanced knee flexion control. It has been developed so finely that it adapts to the different situations of each user and is capable of sports like roller skates and cycling.

Robotic prosthetics now also have sensors attached to muscles and nerves, allowing patients to feel touch and even control movement with their minds. The bionic hand also has fine motor skills for tasks like writing, typing or playing the piano.

Medical robots: the development status and application prospects of the second largest robot in the future

The scope of application of medical robots has boomed in recent years. The da Vinci robot has already performed thousands of operations in hospitals and even has the precise ability to sew grape skins. According to Lei, by 2015, the Da Vinci surgical system had performed no less than 600,000 operations that year. It can be used in a variety of surgeries, ranging from heart valve repair to tumor removal.

It is still important to note, however, that medical robots, especially autonomous surgical robots, are still in their infancy. For example, the problem of flexible control has not yet been solved for the precise sensory control brought by flexibility; for example, multi-information integration, visualization and sensing, and how to achieve the most comprehensive human-computer interaction, etc. There are even many problems in supervision and access. Safety and effectiveness are the necessary thresholds for medical device registration.

The future medical robots will definitely make the trauma smaller and smaller, be simple, safe, integrated, and suitable for the habits of doctors. Even in the future, it will be directly controlled, so that master-slave integration will be achieved, making it smaller and more convenient.

It can be said that robotic surgery has accomplished this goal of eliminating the limitations of laparoscopic surgery. Even the latest and most innovative technologies in the field of modern medicine can be simply boiled down to: robots.

Attachment: Small historical details about medical robots

  • The world’s first surgical robot was Arthrobot, a hip replacement surgical robot first developed and used in Vancouver, Canada in 1983.

  • The first use of a surgical robot was the PUMA 560 in 1985.

  • Intuitive Surgical was established in 1995.

  • In December 2003, in Tampa, US, the hospital was sued after a woman’s husband died after doctors accidentally severed a major blood vessel using a surgical robot.

  • In May 2006, Italy performed the first unmanned robotic surgery.

  • In June 2008, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) developed the first minimally invasive surgical robotic system with force feedback.

  • In September 2010, a robotic surgery on the femoral vasculature was performed at the University Medical Center of Ljubljana, this time using a real robot, because it did not replicate the movements of the human hand, but instead pushed a button on its own. operate.


Published on 10/19/2022