Humanoid robot surgeon startup Vicarious Surgical is making a bold step in the healthcare industry, planning to invent a surgical routine that seems like science fiction. But would definitely be a giant leap if successful. The startup is developing a tiny humanoid robot that can be placed inside a patient’s body through small incision and controlled from anywhere in the world using a virtual reality system connected to the robot surgeon.
The ultimate goal is to perform surgeries on patients using the robot regardless of the distance between the surgeon and the patient while driving down the cost of higher impact surgeries. Vicarious Surgical setup will allow the surgeons to “see” using the robot’s camera (eye) and controls the robot’s arms by simply moving their own.
Founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates, the Charlestown-based startup just raised additional $10 million in funding led by Bill Gates’ Frontier Fund. Other investors include Khosla capital firm, Jerry Yang’s investment firm AME Cloud Ventures, Innovation Endeavors LLC, Salesforce founder Benioff and Neil Devani of Singularity Holdings VC.
Swiftly combining virtual reality and robots technology is the only path to success here. And the company hopes to use the fund in the redefining process. Vicarious Surgical cofounders, Adam Sachs and Sammy Khalifa, have been working on the technology for roughly five years, almost since after meeting as undergraduates.
“We’ve been working on ways to miniaturize robotics and put all of the motion of surgery into the abdominal cavity,” 27-year old Sachs told TechCrunch. “You won’t be confined to move around if all the motion is placed inside the abdominal cavity.”
The team will target how it could use the technology to improve healthcare in the remote areas once the initial goal is met. Currently, the task is to successfully shrink the robot doctors and placing them in patient’s bodies where they can be controlled virtually.
The founders initially bootstrapped Vicarious Surgical in 2016, raising a small seed round before progressively closing larger tranches from bigger investors. The company has raised a total of about $31.8 million in funding for the development of its technology.