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Vicarious: A step towards the future and R2-D2's Envy!

Vicarious Surgical is revolutionizing the healthcare industry with its robotic system
  • Vicarious Surgical is revolutionizing the healthcare industry with its robotic system that enables surgeons to perform minimally invasive surgeries with enhanced visualization.
  • The system offers features like 360-degree visibility and centered pivoting for improved surgical procedures. With significant funding, including investment from Bill Gates, Vicarious Surgical aims to transform the ecosystem of healthcare and expand its procedures beyond ventral hernias to target millions of cases globally.
  • The company faces competition from industry giants like Intuitive Surgical, Johnson & Johnson, and Medtronic but has ambitious plans for growth and success.

Many of us are scared of watching blood so much that even if a doctor is performing a surgery or an operation on a television, we change it or turn it off immediately. We fail to understand, that the deeper the wounds are the deeper the needle goes. 

In medical terms, if the invasion into the body is maximum, it leads to more blood loss indirectly leading to a very slow healing process. But, in this world of tech, Vicarious Surgical is the new trendsetter in the healthcare industry. 

But before that, let us first understand what Vicarious means. According to Google, Vicarious means, “experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person.” One of the synonyms for the word is second-hand.

Isn't that what a doctor needs majorly during their time of performing surgeries or operations? A second-hand that could guide them and help them give direction to their patient’s internal wounds. That's exactly the reason why Vicarious Surgicals, came up with the segment involving a robotic system that has abdominal access and visualization through a single port.

Moreover, as crazy as the concept sounds, their founding story doesn't disappoint in terms of its uniqueness. Would you believe that this reality was only possible because of science fiction movies? YES!

How did it all begin?

The 2014 baby - Vicarious Surgical, was born from the minds of Adam Sachs, Sammy Khalifa, and Dr. Barry Greene, based on a quest by the film Fantastic Voyage. (Source: Vicarious)  But instead of shrinking doctors like in the movie, they aimed to empower and enrich surgeons to navigate the human body in a game-changer way. 

Their solution? Not just a new robotic architecture, but a design of actuators (a device that causes another device to operate) so unique that they would definitely make R2-D2 jealous (you’ll know if you are a follower of Star Wars). Not only that, but their challenges were no less. Fortunately, with a lot of faith, pride, and purpose, these three started off their journey with their heads held high and minds clear.

It is important to note that, they are not just making any human-like robot for fun purposes, FYI - that era had already begun. Rather Vicarious is here to change the entire ecosystem of healthcare by coming up with the technology that could perform surgery with minimum invasion and help the doctors get 3D Views just like in 3D Movies. 

Their responsibilities and promises range from enhancing the patient's journey to ensuring the operating room staff can get a hold of their equipment with ease. Better training, refined procedures, and jaw-dropping outcomes are all part of their game plan.

Let's dive into knowing the features of this robot: (Source: Vicarious

  • Freedom of Movement - the ability to move downwards, sideways, upward, and even backward just like some yoga asana.
  • Human-Inspired Motion - Ability to perform all the upper body movements as that of a surgeon with 28 sensors embedded into it.
  • Access - Centered pivoting in order to perform the surgery from any entry point.
  • 360-degree visibility - Ability to provide advanced stereoscopic imaging of the patient's anatomy and full responsiveness to the surgeon’s movements.

As mentioned their intent is to help all the roleplay of healthcare and fulfill various purposes, the system of the robot is designed mainly into 2 phases. One that connects with the patient, facilitating minimum invasive surgery - The Patient Cart.

The other one is where the surgeon sits to drive the robotic instruments and enhanced 3D high-definition camera inside the patient - The Surgeons Console. (YES - A Surgeon’s Gaming Console)

Source: Vicarious


Now after coming up with this interesting technology, why would even Bill Gates resist funding this start-up? Yes. You heard me right, Bill Gates is one of the investors of the company.

According to Crunchbase - Vicarious Surgical has raised a total of $185.2M in funding over 6 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Sep 20, 2021, from a post-IPO equity round. It is funded by 14 investors, out of which Khosla Ventures and E15 VC are the most recent investors.

Not just that, Vicarious Surgical is registered under the ticker NYSE: RBOT. It's never too late to understand the right time for the right kind of investment, right?

Now, that we know the center facility of Vacarious Surgical, let's go to the periphery and know its expansion. According to an article published on Medtechdive -

Vicarious is aiming to make a 510(k) submission in 2023 and grow sales to $1 billion by 2027 but will face competition from giants including Intuitive Surgical, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic.
At the beginning of its launch, the company will be starting with ventral hernia procedures. As per the statistics,  900,000 of these procedures are performed annually in the USA.

Later expand the procedures of hernias, gallbladder, and hysterectomies which indirectly means targeting 4 million cases. But it's just an expansion in the US that we are talking about. Imagine what the industry would be like after their global launch easing out almost all the difficulties of operation and easing out the life of patients. 

On asking about mergers with companies like J & J, Vicarious mentions, 

“Many of these key surgeons and hospitals already have long-standing relationships with large, well-known companies that dominate the medical device industry. Because of these existing relationships, some of which may be contractually enforced, surgeons and hospitals may be reluctant to adopt the Vicarious System.”

Indeed, they have set their sights high, aiming to conquer the market and achieve remarkable success within the next few years. With its ambitious plan in motion, it is ready to make waves and secure its spot as a prominent player in the industry. 

We as viewers might not be comfortable watching medical procedures but it is the reality of the world and it needs a transformation, one that revolutionizes the industry through robotics. Again, robots are not going to be doctors, they are the tools for better success rates. 

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Edited by Shruti Thapa