Robotic or robot-assisted surgery can give doctors better vision, precision, flexibility and control when performing complex minimally invasive procedures. Someday, surgeons will even use robotic tools to operate through the Internet, bringing modern medical techniques to remote parts of the world.

Only a handful of surgical robots currently are approved for use, and Israelis developed three of them.

“This really puts us in the center of the field, ” says Prof. Alon Wolf, founding director of the Biorobotics and Biomechanics Lab at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and chair of the Robotics in Healthcare session at the upcoming 2016 IATI-BioMed conference in Tel Aviv, May 24-26.

Wolf was studying for his doctorate under robotics pioneer Moshe Shoham of the Technion when they started developing SpineAssist (see below) for minimally invasive spinal surgery. This revolutionary device later formed the basis forShoham’s Mazor Robotics.

“Many countries are putting a lot of money into developing these technologies, yet they have not been as successful as we are, ” Wolf tells ISRAEL21c. “Israel is very respected around the world in this area.”

The “snake” robot for search-and-rescue that Wolf presented to President Obama on his 2013 visit to Israel was the inspiration for the Flex Robotic System (see below).

Prof. Alon Wolf showing the snake robot to President Obama at the Technion in 2013. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO