Medtronic robots perform brain, spine, urological and gynecological surgery. (Source: Yahoo Finance)

AI-Driven Robot Surgeons Become Commonplace in Many Hospitals

Let’s begin with a question. Would you feel safer having an operation done on you by a robot without a doctor’s help? According to a story on, robots in the operating room are the next big thing for surgery.

In a new interview, Medtronic (MDT) CEO Geoff Martha—whose company produces high-tech medical devices—described the latest in medical artificial intelligence, including robots that perform brain surgery and “self-driving surgical robots” that operate without the aid of a doctor.

“Patients love it,” Martha says. “They like the idea of cutting edge technology. You know, people are always looking to get better outcomes, and they associate technology with that.”

“What’s more … advanced technology than a robot,” he adds. “So you’re seeing robotics in surgery quite a bit.”

Medtronic just received the go-ahead from a European agency to allow their HUGO robot to perform surgery in several fields. Months earlier, in June, the company announced the first successful operation performed with the device at a hospital in Santiago, Chile.

And there are others in the robot operation business. Companies like Intuitive Surgical are direct competitors of Medtronics. Others in this field are Asensus Surgical, Mazor Robotics, and Stryker Corporation. The medical robot field is really heating up.

AI Doctors Supervise Humans

Medtronic CEO Geoff Martha pointed out that spinal and brain surgery capable bots are becoming important to surgery rooms.

“We have a spine robot that actually does back surgery and orthopedic surgery,” he says. “Then we have a cranial robot for tumor resection and other procedures in your brain.”

So it seems that the combination of AI and robotics will be a very common way to receive medical care. It’s just in the beginning stages now, but the potential for growth is limitless really.

“First, you’re going to have real-time feedback to the surgeon so some of the robots are surgeon-assisted where they’re going with a joystick — the surgeons driving looking at a computer screen driving the robot.”

“Pretty soon you’re going to see AI come and say, ‘Look, Mr. Doctor, so and so you know, you’re going Dr. Jones, your next move should be this, you should make sure you don’t cut this, make sure you stay away from that.”

AI is already finding issues with the mistakes made by humans when reading MRIs or x-rays. And the mistakes they are uncovering are saving lives. Now with the skill and automatic movements of robotic AI doctors, even more lives will be improved or extended due to more accurate operations.