Rob Surgical is dedicated to the design and development of new robotic systems with the goal of universalizing precision surgery and bringing its benefits to all hospitals, surgeons and patients around the world. Bitrack, its open platform surgical robot, is the result of more than ten years of leading research by a team of renowned experts, including Josep Amat.
Josep Amat is a Doctor in Industrial Engineering and professor emeritus of Architecture and Computer Science at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC). He is an adviser to the Robotics and Vision Group at CREB-UPC. From 1991 to 2006 he was visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is a member of the Institute of Catalan Studies and the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona.
His current research is focused on robotic surgery and we caught up with him to learn about the conceptualization and development of Rob Surgical’s Bitrack System surgical robot.
Dr. Josep Amat, how did the idea of designing a surgical robot come about?
It was more than 10 years ago, at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital. We attended a round table with research teams from different sectors. A surgeon from the Mayo Clinic was present at that meeting who, after hearing about our advances in robotics, asked us if we could apply engineering to offer solutions to surgeons. At that time the seeds of what is now Rob Surgical were sown.
What is the founding purpose of Rob Surgical?
Rob Surgical improves on current robotics and offers a flexible and versatile open platform consisting of a column of four arms that allow the movements of surgical instruments to be controlled with sub-millimeter precision. The Rob Surgical System improves the efficiency of current surgical robotics, allowing high-precision surgery to be universalized.
The value proposition is based on three pillars: high precision and safety that benefits the patient, superior usability for the surgeon and a significant reduction in the total cost per surgery that benefits hospitals, since it does not require a dedicated operating room, it requires less staff, does not require prior training and admits hybrid surgeries.
What do you mean by “hybrid surgeries”?
The differential factor of Rob Surgical lies in the possibility of performing hybrid surgeries, alternating between manual maneuvers and high-precision ones assisted by the robot. This is all thanks to the concept of an open platform and the possibility of doing set-up and docking very quickly and intuitively, which allows the robot to intervene only in the most delicate parts, reducing the time and cost of each intervention. Its operation is effortless to learn, and its ergonomics and usability allow the surgeon to make the most of his medical skills with the extreme precision of a robotic system. Hybrid surgery makes it possible to put the patient and the surgeon’s needs back at the center of the surgical procedure.
Thank you very much for your time, Dr. Josep Amat.
The purpose of Rob Surgical is the clear example of engineering at the service of surgery, bringing all the technological advantages of robotics to precision surgery, to be complemented by the expert knowledge of surgeons.