More robots are popping up in operating rooms around the world. The da Vinci Surgical System robot is now used in four out of five prostatectomies in the United States, and more than 1800 of the machines are installed at some 1400 hospitals worldwide. In August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared a robot-assisted system for minimally invasive treatment of coronary artery disease. Although today’s robots are still controlled by surgeons, some researchers say that may not be the case in the future. Bioengineers at Duke University, in Durham, N.C., have demonstrated that an autonomous robot can perform simple surgery, such as taking a sample of a cyst, on its own. Since then, other researchers have wondered whether fully autonomous robots could perform more complicated tasks.
Do you think robots will one day replace surgeons for certain procedures? Would you trust a robot over a surgeon?