Shortlist: Latest medical robotics and automation systems

Pharma IQ

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 commercialized.

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.

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 healthcare systems or have already introduced them.


Robotics and automation systems suppliers in the healthcare sector:

· Intuitive Surgical – this company has developed and commercialized the da Vinci robotic surgery systems and many associated technologies. Dr. Robot: Robotics & Automation in the Medical Sector 2

 da Vinci Si Surgical System

Operating room featuring the da Vinci Si Surgical System

· 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 commercialized.

· MicroSure – a Netherlands company which has developed and commercialized 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.

Axsis – one of the smallest known robots for surgical use.

· 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 specializes 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 – specializing in spinal and brain surgery.

There are many others which provide a range of technologies, some of which are software-oriented solutions rather than robotic.  The field of medical robotics and automation systems certainly holds a lot of promise for the years to come.