Robots are not yet operating on people, but in this “precision training task”, a task that surgeons work on before they become surgeons, the robot performed better.
Surgeons have been using robots for a while now. The tools a robot can use are much smaller than a surgeon can wield, to the incisions can be smaller. But these robots are under the direct control of the surgeon.
The test we are talking about was automated.
We may be several years out from an autonomous robot actually performance surgery on a live human.
“We were very surprised by the robot’s speed and accuracy, as it is very hard to surpass the skill of a trained human surgeon,” says Ken Goldberg, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, who was also involved in the study. “We were also surprised by how consistent the robot was; it transferred 120 blocks flawlessly without a single failure.”