Beyond industrial automation, healthcare is another robotics application with obvious benefits. Robot-assisted surgery got started in the 1980s but has become commercially viable in the past decade.

Surgical robotics offers to improve precision, efficiency, and the quality of care. Minimally invasive procedures cause less scarring and allow for more rapid recovery, and robot-assisted surgery builds on such capabilities. Artificial intelligence and 3D imaging can help with diagnosis and relieve part of doctors’ cognitive burden.

In our first RBR Top 10 breakout, Robotics Business Review has selected the leading surgical robotics providers. As with our annual RBR50 list, we’ve considered the most successful, innovative, and influential robotics companies.

Some are well-established, such as Intuitive Surgical, while others, like Titan Medical, are working toward commercialization. RBR Top 10 companies like Stryker and Virtual Incision have helped expand the range of robot-assisted surgery from abdominal to orthopedic, cardiac, and neurological procedures.

Cost remains a significant barrier to wider adoption of robot-assisted surgery. However, TransEnterix and others are working to lower that barrier.

In addition, surgical robotics has been around for long enough that many facilities are already looking to modernize their equipment, according to iData Research.

Consolidation in this growing market is likely to continue, as Medtronic’s investment in Mazor Robotics last year demonstrated.

Things to come in robot-assisted surgery and more

We’ll be watching the RBR Top 10 surgical robotics providers, as well as other technological and business developments. What else can we expect in the coming year?

Microscopic nanobots could soon operate in the human bloodstream, and AI could grow from an advisor to an active participant in procedures. Haptics could enable ever greater control, and flexible robots that can snake into sensitive areas with a minimal of human intervention are just a few possible innovations.

Of course, surgical robots are just one type of automation entering healthcare. Assistive robots and exoskeletons are intended to aid aging populations worldwide, and 3D-printed prosthetics are already improving children’s lives. From mobile robots in the supply chain to automatic pill dispensers, social and therapeutic robots, and nursing assistants, the only limit to applications is imagination and investment.

In the coming months, we plan to continue our RBR Top 10s, rounding up robotics leaders in infrastructure (including construction and energy/utilities), industrial automation, logistics, and components.

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