Date: Sunday, 24th June; Full day

Workshop Aims

Empowering robots with human-level intelligence represents one of the ultimate goals of robotics research. With increasing levels of autonomy for medical robotics, the regulatory, ethical and legal barriers imposed give rise to the need for careful consideration of different levels of autonomy, as well as the context for use. Science Robotics recently proposed 6 levels of autonomy for medical robotics:

  • Level 0: no autonomy. This level includes tele-operated robots or prosthetic devices that respond to and follow exactly the user’s command.
  • Level 1: robot assistance. Here the robot provides some mechanical guidance or assistance during a task whilst the human has continuous control of the system.
  • Level 2: task autonomy. The robot is autonomous for specific tasks initiated by a human.
  • Level 3: conditional autonomy. At this level, the system generates task strategies, but relies on the human to either select from among different strategies or to approve an autonomously selected strategy.
  • Level 4: high autonomy. At this level, the robot can make medical decisions, but under the supervision of a qualified doctor.
  • Level 5: full autonomy (no human needs to be in loop) as a “robotic surgeon” that can perform an entire surgery. 

The purpose of this workshop is to address the technical, regulatory, ethical and legal considerations for increasing levels of autonomy. In this workshop, we also aim at exploring the interaction between abstract and practical levels during a highly cognitive activity such as surgery. Starting from the review of today’s understanding of cognitive robotic surgery, we will further discuss the specific research challenges related to surgical workflow and process modeling, address its commercial perspectives, and the possibilities of its effective deployment in clinical practice.  

Topics to be covered

The workshop will cover the following topics (but won’t be limited to):

  • Levels of autonomy - challenges and opportunities for macro- and micro-scale deployments
  • Knowledge- and Model-Based Surgery
  • Perception – Interpretation - Action
  • Semantics for robotic surgery
  • Learning and adaptation
  • Automation and context-aware surgical assistance
  • Surgical skill assessment and the role of the training in robotic surgery
  • Surgical workflow analysis and monitoring
  • Regulatory, Ethical, and Legal Considerations


  • Paolo Fiorini, University of Verona, Italy
  • Guang-Zhong Yang, Imperial College London, UK