arcoro INNOVATIONS

Medical robots & robotic assistance systems

Dynamism and innovation – characteristics that distinguish and set the medical technology industry apart. This is illustrated on the one hand by the high number of patent applications and on the other hand by the introduction of innovative and future-oriented products on the market. One product range that is currently revolutionising medical technology and the entire health sector is medical robots and robotic assistance systems. With increasing shortages of medical professionals, medical robots can compensate for bottlenecks while maintaining or even optimising quality standards.

Our new issue of arcoro INNOVATIONS provides a comprehensive introduction to the topic of medical robots, their various fields of application and current trends. Learn more about surgical robots, nursing robots, exoskeletons and co. In addition, we provide you with insights into key technologies. Be surprised by national and international big players and hidden potentials! Another highlight is an in-depth interview with an industry expert – could we arouse your interest? Find out now and benefit from our research and evaluations!

Content

Medical robots & robotic assistance systems

  • History, trends and areas of application
1
Current key trends in the healthcare sector

  • Operating room of the future through intelligent,
    robotic system solutions
  • Robotics as a Service (RaaS)
  • Cognitive medical robots
5
Wegbereiter (national / international) 6
Interview

  • Mr. Thomas Wiesner (BHS Technologies GmbH) reports on medical robots, visualization technology, future prospects and challenges of the industry
9
Deep Dive

  • UV-C technology
  • Exoskeletons
  • Laboratory robotics
  • Diagnostic robotics
  • Caregiver robotics
13
Challenges & Outlook 18
Survey results 20
ABOUT arcoro 25

Medical robots & robotic assistance systems – history, trends and areas of application –

Robots are generally not a novelty. They have been used in industry for decades for construction, transport and logistics. Machines that autonomously carry out activities through sensor signals or pre-programmed settings. Automata that are remote-controlled, obey the commands of humans and support them in their daily mechanical tasks. In medicine, on the other hand, robotic solutions have only been used sporadically up to now, but are now establishing themselves increasingly and comprehensively in versatile areas of application.

The first prototypes for medical robots have been developed since 1985 as part of university and research projects. However, these were more experimental in nature and involved many setbacks. Computer Motion produced one of the first surgical robots. The Aesop 1000 surgical robot received regulatory approval for medical procedures in the USA in 1993.

Medical robots belong to the category of service robots, which represent a strong growth market. The strongest industries for service robots are medical, logistics and agribusiness, of which medical robots already accounted for 47% of the market share in 2019 and generated by far the highest shares in terms of sales values. In 2018, service robots in medicine generated sales of around USD 3.5 billion worldwide. In 2020, this value already rose to USD 5.7 billion and sales values of USD 10.8 billion are forecast for 2023.

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The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) expects an annual growth rate of around 31% in the professional segment and around 26% in the consumer segment by 2023. In the medical robotics segment, the portfolio of robotic surgical solutions offers the highest unit sales at around 51%. Robotic systems that assist in the rehabilitation of patients follow these with a further 41%.

Looking at the latest generation of medical robots, it is noticeable that they usually focus on a specific indication. The focus of a medical robot is therefore on the execution of a specific intervention or the treatment of one and the same recurring task. Companies, research and development institutes are now also increasingly working on innovative solutions for universal use. The goal: intelligent medical robots that can be used for various procedures and are userfriendly and affordable.

Robots are expected to revolutionise the healthcare system in the future through a combination of state-of-the-art image processing technology, advanced sensor technology, the use of artificial intelligence and individually tailored software solutions. Patients and medical and nursing staff are to be optimally cared for and profitably supported. Nevertheless, even the best medical robots and robotic assistance systems will probably still be dependent on humans in the future.

Current main trends in the health care sector:

1) OR of the future through intelligent, robotic system solutions

Survey results from an international study by PwC show that today around 50% of participants would give their consent to be operated on by a robot. Another study illustrates that already 35% of Germans believe that robots can already operate better than a human doctor and 65% are convinced that in 20 years at the latest robots will be far superior to their human counterparts. A lot of hope is placed in robot-assisted surgery. Robotic assistance systems offer multiple advantages for hospitals and surgeries, such as better ergonomics for the surgeon, more mobility with better imaging, higher precision and stamina in longer, complicated surgeries. Furthermore, surgical outcomes are optimised for the patient and risks are reduced. Experiences show less need for painkillers, a shortened recovery process and faster gains in patient mobility.

A particularly promising trend is the performance of operations in which surgeon and patient are separated not only spatially but sometimes even continentally. While the surgeon sees his patient in front of him with the help of high-resolution cameras and imaging techniques as if he were standing at the operating table himself, the movements and hand movements can be performed precisely and
many times smaller by a robot on site. The robot receives signals that the surgeon is guiding instruments with a joystick or specific equipment.

 

2) Robotics as a Service (RaaS)

Robotics as a Service is a business model that allows companies to rent or lease expensive robot hardware for a contractually agreed period of time. In this way, companies are not constrained by fixed capital or high fixed costs. This offers the healthcare sector the opportunity to test robotic solutions, to analyse the acceptance and openness of patients towards the service assistants and to test the benefits of the innovation itself without the risk of being stuck with high acquisition costs.

 

3) Cognitive medical robots

Experts see promising opportunities in the development of cognitive medical robots compared to conventional surgical robots. Machine learning will enable robotic systems to learn from and with medical professionals and optimise surgical processes. The robots should then be able to follow demonstrations of complex tasks, document the procedure and imitate it themselves in the further
course. In addition, robotic behaviour can be extracted in order to perform activities in which the robot learns from its own experience and optimises its own procedure for the future. The greatest challenge in learning systems is the processing of sensor data. However, this is crucial for the development of reliable, autonomously acting robot systems, which requires a mature perception of the environment.

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Anne Plonz

Business Analyst