Google's mysterious facility, Google X, is churning out next level technologies -- a self-driving car, delivery drones and Internet balloons. Its Life Sciences division is now teaming up with Ethicon, one of Johnson & Johnson's medical device companies, to develop robotic-assisted surgeries. "Through this collaboration, we are looking to provide surgeons with a technologically advanced system that would help them make the best, most informed decisions," Gary Pruden, Worldwide Chairman, Global Surgery Group at Johnson & Johnson told Engadget. "The surgeon remains the ultimate decision maker, but they will have even more support with precision movements and data-enhanced decision making tools."
A robotic-assisted surgery is like a high-tech laparoscopy. It's a minimally invasive procedure, where instead of a surgeon, robotic arms insert surgical tools into the patient. But the arms are not autonomous; a surgeon pilots them. The device eliminates the slightest human tremor and it requires smaller incisions for access, which invariably reduces blood loss. Barring complications that can arise in any medical procedure, the surgeon-robot combination makes a patient's recovery a whole lot easier and quicker.
Robotics in surgery isn't a new concept, though, it's been around since the '90s. But according to Pruden, "today's robotic options for surgeons are limited, requiring substantial financial outlay and infrastructure investment." When the collaboration between the two companies goes through -- pending approval from the HSR Act (an antitrust law) -- their combined capabilities could potentially build an advanced robotic platform that is more accessible than its current counterparts. "We think it will be smarter and will provide more information for surgeons doing critical tasks," he says. "It will be more cost-effective."