Limitations Of Robotic Surgery

Innovative and "cutting-edge" technology requires maturation and refinement, and inherently carries with it benefits and limitations. Robotic surgery is no exception. There is considerable room for improved kinematic configurations, as well as more compact and efficient actuator and transmission technologies. In terms of sensing and control, robots are driven by computers and share the same shortcomings, especially for autonomous operation. Robots follow instructions literally, and cannot use qualitative reasoning or exercise meaningful judgement. Increasing computational power may improve robot-control capabilities.

The loss of haptic feedback is a shortcoming of contemporary robotic systems. Haptic feedback comprises force feedback as well as texture, viscosity, temperature, and other characteristics, which provide the surgeon with much information. With further advancements in robotics, the technology necessary to provide haptic feedback may evolve.

Another obstacle to the widespread application of robotics is cost. Any new technology will fail unless there is a sufficient market to allow for the system to be mass produced, thereby reducing cost. The initial investment to acquire a robotic system may be prohibitive, and significant clinical benefit to patients needs to be demonstrated to justify this expenditure. Despite these challenges, surgical robotics is starting to thrive. In fact, medicine may prove to be one of the most fertile grounds for future robotic applications. Therefore, it is expected that as production and competition increase, the cost of robotics will go down significantly.

Future robotic systems are likely to include improved haptic feedback data.

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