Goldberg’s AUTOLab reports significant advance in robotic surgery

A da Vinci Research Kit robot completes a peg-transfer task.

A team of researchers in Ken Goldberg‘s Automation Laboratory recently published the results of a study in which a robot performed a common surgical training task with more speed than, and the same consistency as, an experienced surgeon.

Goldberg, faculty director of the CITRIS People and Robots initiative, and the paper’s first author, Minho Hwang, an assistant professor at the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, note that this is a preliminary study in a controlled environment, and more studies are still needed to achieve fully automated robotic surgery. But as far as they are aware, this is the first instance of a robot outperforming a human in a surgery-related training task.

“We were very surprised by the robot’s speed and accuracy, as it is very hard to surpass the skill of a trained human surgeon,” said Goldberg.