The development of surgical robotics since the mid-1980’s has been remarkable. From a few initial research efforts in orthopaedics, stereotactic brain surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and a few other surgical disciplines, the field has grown exponentially to include both many commercially deployed systems and a robust and expanding research community. Robotic systems are used on 15% of all surgical procedures. Advances in artificial intelligence, device and sensor technology, medical image analysis, systems science, and human-machine collaboration capabilities are enabling increasingly effective three-way partnerships between clinicians, technology, and information to improve clinical care. At the same time, the intrinsic characteristics of surgical applications, combining the need for effectiveness, safety and human-machine interaction, make them an excellent focus for research into each of the underlying engineering capabilities.
This special issue will focus on two themes underlying current research in robotics for improving surgery and interventional medicine. The first theme will cover emerging research into key hardware, software, and systems capabilities that are beginning to enable a new generation of surgical robots. The second theme will focus on current and emerging surgical applications that are driving the engineering research. The proposed papers are expected to provide an excellent snapshot of this growing field of engineering research and will provide an introduction and scientific guidance for young researchers approaching the field.