In March 2016, a research team reported the first successful instance of a robot performing a delicate surgical procedure better than humans could. In the experiment, which researchers claimed was a prelude to potential clinical trials, the robot, known as STAR, or Smart-Tissue Autonomous Robot, was able to suture together a pig's bowel during an open surgery. Although STAR's lead researcher said the technology still has flaws that need ironing out, he envisions a world where robotic surgeons are commonplace in New York and other states.
The procedure involved the manipulation of soft tissues, so the researchers said the test also demonstrated their ability to effectively represent and track malleable flesh. In the past, robots have performed well with hard tissue due to its stability, but STAR's robot arm was able to use modeling data in conjunction with imaging tools and pressure sensors to determine exactly where to stitch.