Called Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR), the semi-autonomous device uses a near-infrared camera to constantly monitor how predefined marks on tissue move in relation to its cutting tool, according to IEEE Spectrum. That allows it to make particularly accurate incisions by readjusting as it goes. While STAR needs the marks to be placed by a human, it takes care of the cutting by itself.
Armed with an electrosurgical tool, which uses electrical currents rather than a scalpel blade to cut tissue, it can deftly slice through skin, fat, and muscle. In fact, in experiments presented at a recent conference, STAR was able to make more accurate (and less damaging) straight two-inch cuts than human surgeons, and it accurately excised a fake tumor from a chunk of pig fat.
This isn’t STAR’s first rodeo, though. Last year, the team behind it also showed that it was able to stitch together soft tissue with a needle and thread in order to repair pig bowels more accurately than human doctors. All of which suggests that STAR’s path to the OR might not be quite as far-fetched as it initially sounds.