A British company has unveiled the latest robotic surgery system, an innovation to rival the American da Vinci model.
CMR Surgical’s Versius robot is expected to operate on patients for the first time next year.
The Cambridge-based firm has designed the system to be smaller and more flexible and versatile than existing robots, enabling it to perform a wider range of operations.
By implementing AI when tapping into the vast volumes of data available to them, healthcare organisations can gain access to real-time information and sophisticated insights – empowering them to improve decision-making and deliver services that really do meet the needs and wants of UK citizens
It has independent modular arms which are quick and easy to set up. Each arms has flexible joints like a human arm, which are controlled by a surgeon sitting at a console using two joysticks and a 3D screen.
Robot systems use laparoscopic, also known as keyhole, surgery, which is carried out with special instruments via small incisions, leading to reduced pain and a faster recovery for patients, as well as a lower risk of post-operative infection.
“It takes around 80 hours to teach suturing with manual laparoscopic tools and some surgeons find it impossible to master," said Addenbrooke's Hospital surgeon Mark Slack, a co-founder of CMR Surgical.
"By contrast, it takes half an hour to teach using Versius - this will enable many more surgeons to deliver the benefits of keyhole surgery."
The da Vinci robot is already used in around 70 NHS hospitals and it is expected Versius will also be widely adopted.
However, the launch comes after the The Institute for Public Policy Research suggested that although 10% of annual NHS operational expenses - approximately £12.5billion - could be saved through AI and automation technologies; it can only really take off if end users trust in the technology.
The true value of AI will be found in it working alongside humans to ease the pressure across the healthcare system as well as making our lives easier
And research from OpenText recently revealed widespread uncertainty among the UK population when it comes to trusting their health to AI.
A more-accurate diagnosis was identified as the biggest benefit of introducing AI into healthcare; yet only a quarter (26%) of UK consumers believe robots would reach the correct diagnosis.
Commenting on the findings, Mark Bridger, vice president of OpenText, said: “Artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies have the potential to completely transform healthcare services.
“While sci-fi films can distort the impact of AI technology, it’s time to stop viewing AI as an existential threat to our livelihoods and our health.
“AI will transform the workplace as menial tasks, and some non-routine jobs, are digitalised through robotics and process automation, but it cannot replace people.
“The true value of AI will be found in it working alongside humans to ease the pressure across the healthcare system as well as making our lives easier.
“By implementing AI when tapping into the vast volumes of data available to them, healthcare organisations can gain access to real-time information and sophisticated insights – empowering them to improve decision-making and deliver services that really do meet the needs and wants of UK citizens.”.