Johnson & Johnson teams up with Google to build surgical robots

30 Mar 2015

With the help of one of its subsidiaries, Johnson & Johnson is to partner with search giant Google to develop surgical robots that will assist surgeons in the operation theatre.

Easing fears that robots will soon be replacing human surgeons in hospitals, the two companies released a statement announcing the agreement saying that they will be developing a “robotic-assisted surgical platform capable of integrating advanced technologies with the goal of improving health care delivery in the operating room”, and will be built by Johnson & Johnson’s medical device subsidiary, Ethicon.

As a result, a robotic device would be much more beneficial to the patient as it will allow for a more minimally invasive procedures which will not only reduce the possibility of something going wrong with a human hand, but also reduce the recovery process following surgery with minimal scarring.

“This collaboration with Google is another important step in our commitment to advancing surgical care, and together,” said Gary Pruden, worldwide chairman, global surgery group at Johnson & Johnson. We aim to put the best science, technology and surgical know-how in the hands of medical teams around the world.”

While Google’s involvement in the project has not exactly been made clear, its history would suggest that the gathering of data related to improving surgical techniques would be involved given the company’s significant push towards gathering health data, most notably with the purchase of Flatiron Health last year for US$140m.

Also, the company’s Google Glass device has been mooted as a potential accessory to be used as an aide during surgery, something which has already been tested in some hospitals across the world.

Operating theatre image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic