It's long been predicted that man and robot would work alongside each other for manual tasks but a new trial is sending them into the delicate field of prostate cancer surgery.
Robotic prostate cancer surgery is nothing new, but an Australian study has pitted results against old-fashioned open surgery and found it's on par with open surgery.
The two-year study randomly allocated either robotic or non-robotic surgery to men having their prostate gland removed. The surgery is delicate because some men experience urinary and erectile problems afterwards.
What is robotic surgery?
It's not an autonomous humanoid process devoid of actual human surgeons, rather it's the use of robotic aids and keyhole incisions.
Instead of open surgery, a keyhole incision is made and a robot is inserted with a magnifying 3D camera on one arm, and three surgical implements on other arms.
The surgeon is in the operating room but is away from the patient and controls the robotic arms to perform the operation.
University of Queensland Centre For Clinical Research professor Robert Gardiner said the study found that after three months, there was no statistical difference between the two groups.
"Many clinicians claim the benefits of robotic technology lead to improved quality of life and oncological outcomes," Gardiner said.
"Our randomised trial, the first of its kind, found no statistical difference.
"Patients are now being followed-up for a total of two years in order to fully assess the longer-term outcomes, including on cancer survival.
"In the meantime, patients should choose an experienced surgeon they trust and with whom they have a rapport, rather than basing their decision on a specific surgical approach."Suggest a correction