STAR, short for Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot has been stitching up tissues in living animals with precision that is, at times, better than real doctors. This seems to be a big deal for the robotics and medical fields. We have already been applying robotics technology in many industries where robots have been able to do the work successfully that may be tough for humans to perform. The field of medical sciences is a vast world, and robotics has been continuously introduced to it in various forms.
Robots already exist in many operation theaters where they assist doctors in less intrusive tasks. Robot assisted surgeries are done in quite a few hospitals; however, relying on a robot for stitching up tissues hasn’t happened before.
The project involving STAR was led by Dr. Peter C. W. Kim of Children’s National Health System which is located in Washington. He is a pediatric surgeon who explains that the purpose of STAR is not to replace surgeons but to improve the process of surgeries which involves stitching tissues.
STAR is still in its nascent phases where it has tried to stitch tissues of animals like pigs outside the body of the animals and in five sedated living pigs. While the process of stitching bore better results when the robot did it outside the bodies, when it performed the same stitches in the living pigs, the results were not as perfect. The robot took longer and had to reposition its stitches a couple of times.
On the other hand a surgeon was able to perform the same thing in a better way. This proves that the robot may have a long way to go before it can be used for mainstream operations, but there is hope for the universe of robotics in this area, and with technology speeding up, I have less doubt that we will see STAR outperform itself and probably the surgeons, soon.