Medical and surgical robotics are one of the fastest growing sector of service robotics, yielding important medical advances and great economic returns to the investors. However, despite the impressive growth rate, the actual numbers of robot-assisted procedures and their impact are still very small in the medical field: robotic surgical interventions account for only the 0.05% of the total number of major surgeries done every year worldwide, and no clear medical benefit has emerged in most robot-assisted procedures with respect to Minimally Invasive Surgical (MIS) procedures.
We believe the reasons for this are primarily two: the huge cost of the devices that prevent their widespread usage and the lack of diversified devices that can be used in lower cost procedures. In short, both reasons can be related to the high cost of medical robotics since it prevents smaller hospitals to use robots in their clinical practice and limits their applications to high cost procedures that guarantees the proper cost recovery.
In this workshop we want to explore the difficulties and the benefits of developing low cost medical robotic devices that can guarantee top performance at a fraction of the cost of current devices. The difficulties to achieve this goal are many, from the high cost of certification and experimentation to the marginal performance of low cost components. Thus, new algorithms need to be developed to achieve high performance from components derived from mass production products, and new certification procedures could be proposed to the notifiedbodies. Of course, if this approach will be successful, we could finally see robots integrated in all medical procedures.