“We are ready,” says Brian Miller, senior vice president of product development at Intuitive Surgical, which pioneered surgical robotics with the launch of its da Vinci system back in 1999.
Ready, that is, to face the onslaught of competition that will begin with the expected FDA approval of a new robotic system, SurgiBot from TransEnterix in mid April. It’s a new world for Intuitive, given that for more than 10 years the word “competition” has not meant much to the Sunnyvale, CA, firm that bought out its rival Computer Motion back in 2003.
But it’s not only TransEnterix, based in Research Triangle Park, NC, that is aiming to shake up robot-assisted surgery. Titan Medical, based in Canada, is developing the Sport Surgical System, which will debut in the United States in mid 2017. Medtronic has revealed that it, too, has a robotics program, although details are scant. And late last year, Johnson & Johnson announced it is teaming up with Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) to create Verb Surgical, a Mountain View, CA-based firm that wants to leverage the power of machine learning and advanced imaging in surgery.