Vicarious Surgical, a Charlestown, Mass.-based startup developing a technology that combines VR with surgical robotics, announced recently the closing of a $10 million round of funding led by Bill Gates’ Gates Frontier.
Vicarious Surgical’s plan to put a tiny humanoid robot inside a person’s body may seem like science fiction. But the company and its co-founders, Adam Sachs and Sammy Khalifa, are developing and refining the technology to make that vision a reality.
Basically, they envision an operating room in Seattle where doctors prep a patient for surgery. They take a miniaturized bot with two arms and a camera and place it inside a patient’s body through a single micro-incision. Then they have a surgeon in New York, or anywhere in the world, put on a VR headset to “see” what the robot sees, grab their controllers and prepare to operate.
“We’ve been working on ways to miniaturize robotics and put all of the motion of surgery into the abdominal cavity,” Sachs told TechCrunch. “If you put all of the motion inside the abdominal cavity you are not confined to motion around the incision sites.”
Vicarious Surgical said once it meets its goal of effectively “shrinking the surgeons” and placing them virtually inside the patients’ bodies, the next step will be to see how this cutting-edge technology can improve healthcare in remote areas.
“A lot of our long-term vision is about growing and scaling our technology to the point where it’s accessible not just to big cities and major hospitals in the U.S. and also the small cities and towns in the rural U.S. and around the world as well,” Sachs told TechCrunch. “Long-term it’s about the democratization of surgery that can come from surgical robotics.”
The global surgical robots market is expected to reach $98 billion by 2024 at a CAGR of 8.5% in the given forecast period.