intuitive surgical, robot assisted surgery

Dr Robot: Robotics and automation in the medical sector

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Robotics in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector has a relatively long history, having started with a robot called the Puma 560 in 1985, according to All About Robotic Surgery.

Now, however, a number of robotic and automation systems have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for operation in healthcare environments, and the market is probably set to grow exponentially in the next few years as they become fully commercialised.

While robotic surgery systems such as Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci may be the most photogenic of the systems, gaining a lot of publicity in recent years, there are numerous other systems being developed, with some already being used in healthcare. 

For example, Omnicell is doing a brisk trade with its automated pharmaceuticals dispensing machine.

Midea, the home appliances giant, is considering launching something similar, although no pictures or details of its robot pharmacist have yet emerged.

 

But there is quite a lot of activity in the sector, which is why we thought we’d round up the companies which are either ready to launch robotic heathcare systems or have already introduced them.

Robotics and automation systems suppliers in the healthcare sector

  • Intuitive Surgical – this company has developed and commercialised the da Vinci robotic surgery systems and many associated technologies.
  • Verb Surgical – a joint enterprise between Google and Johnson & Johnson which is developing a “digital surgery platform”, combining robotics with data analytics and other technologies.
  • Omnicell – a company which has developed, and markets, an automated pharmaceutical dispensing system.
  • CareFusion – owns automated pharmaceuticals dispensing systems with brand names such as Rowe and Pyxis MedStation.
  • Novel Surgical Robotic System – developed by Hong Kong Polytechnic University but not yet commercialised.
  • MicroSure – a Netherlands company which has developed and commercialised a robot-assisted “microsurgery” system.
  • Cambridge Medical – a startup which has raised almost $50 million to market the robotic surgery system it has developed.
  • Kuka – an industrial robot manufacturer which recently acquired the necessary certifications for medical use for one of its machines.
  • Cambridge Consultants – a technology research and development company which demonstrated a robot small enough to assist in eye surgery procedures.
  • Auris – a company which has gained approval from US medical authorities for its robotic surgery system.
  • TransEnterix – another company which has received approval from the US FDA to market its product, called SurgiBot.
  • Preceyes – one of the companies mentioned in an excellent article about robotic eye surgery systems.
  • EndoVia – another company mentioned in the article, and which has been acquired by Hansen Medical.
  • Smith & Nephew – acquired Blue Belt Technologies, a provider of robot-assisted surgery systems.
  • Think Surgical – a developer and provider of a range of surgical technologies, including robots.
  • Mako Surgical – currently being marketed through a website called Stryker, but supplies robotic-arm assisted surgery systems.
  • Aethon – company which specialises in providing mobile delivery vehicles for use within hospitals, and which was recently acquired by ST Engineering.
  • Blue Ocean Robotics – a provider of a mobile robot for disinfecting hospital rooms and internal spaces.
  • Riverfield – a spin-out from the Tokyo Institute of Technology which plans to marketing its robotic surgery system in 2020.
  • Mazor Robotics – specialising in spinal and brain surgery.
  • Titan Medical – robotic surgery platform developer.

There are many others which provide a range of technologies, some of which are software-oriented solutions rather than robotic. We’ve included the ones we could find, and know something about.

We haven’t included Midea’s automated dispenser because we haven’t seen it yet, and providing a link to the site of a company with such a diverse range of products would probably be unhelpful.


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