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A robot performs laparoscopic surgery without human help.

This week, Johns Hopkins researchers announced that their Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) system had successfully performed laparoscopic surgery on pig tissue without the assistance of a person. As the researchers puts it, “significantly better” results were achieved in animals than people when compared to human trials of the procedure.

To fully automate a process like this, there are a lot of challenges to solve. One of the most important is that tissue (human, pig, or otherwise) can be somewhat unexpected because of its malleability, making it difficult to program.

Despite the fact that human surgeons have worked with it for decades, it can be a challenge for robots. The new robotic system is based on a 2016 system that performed the surgery on pigs well but required human guidance and a huge incision. The algorithm for STAR’s navigation system was developed using three-dimensional machine vision.

This is a first for a robotic surgical system to plan, modify, and perform a surgical plan in soft tissue with minimum human interaction,” stated the paper’s lead author Hamed Saeidi in a press release.

System developers believe that the technology might be utilized to perform similar treatments with greater accuracy and repeatability. Robotic surgery has seen a huge increase in interest and funding in recent decades because of its ability to help level the playing field for access to what has historically been considered highly specialized surgical operations.


Laparoscopic Surgery Performed By a Robot Without Human Assistance – TechCrunch. (n.d.). TechCrunch.