Which fictional robot would make the best surgeon?

30 Aug 2022 4min read

Team Discussion

Multiple authors

In the medical device industry, there has been increasing exploration into the use of robotics in surgery, with devices being developed to assist with making surgery safer and more reliable. In fact, it is now estimated that the market size for surgical robots is expected to grow by 14.8% over the next 6 years. Currently, robotics can be used to manipulate instruments, align body parts in the correct orientation, and create exact incisions in patients, among other things, but the scope for developing more uses is exciting. Upon hearing about these developments, my brain naturally thought: “which fictional robot would I most want to perform surgery on me?”, and after discussing this hypothetical scenario with some of my colleagues, these are my findings.

Firstly, we need to establish what qualities we’re looking for in a surgeon. Anyone performing surgery should be able to focus for a long period of time, and have fantastic attention to detail to carry out procedures with precision and accuracy. It’s also important to consider that any surgeon, robotic or otherwise, should be calm under pressure and able to think on their feet. With that in mind, let’s review some of the options.

Bender from Futurama:

Bender can be best characterised as a dishonest, beer-swilling grouch, with little patience for people and even less empathy. Whilst I’d enjoy listening to him crack wise, I wouldn’t trust him as my doctor if I was to go under the knife as he usually just looks after his own interests.


C3P0 from Star Wars:

Whilst C3P0 is loyal and always means well, his incompetence often hampers his effectiveness at doing what he’s supposed to. I’m sure he’d try his best, but I’d have little confidence in him to perform a procedure successfully as I think he’d lack the urgency and precision required.

WALL-E and EVE from WALL-E:

WALL-E is endlessly endearing and fiercely loyal, but I think his curious nature just might get the better of him and distract him for the job at hand. A surgeon should be able to focus for hours at a time without losing concentration, and I don’t think WALL-E is quite up to the task.

EVE, on the other hand, would definitely be a more attentive surgeon than WALL-E, we even see her in the film repairing WALL-E and carefully charging him back to ‘health’. My concern with EVE is that earlier in the film she is deactivated pretty easily which gives me major cybersecurity concerns. What if someone were to deactivate her mid-surgery? It’s not a risk I’d be willing to take.


K9 from Doctor Who:

As robots go, K9 is about as loveable as they come. While his dog-like traits make him fiercely loyal and incredibly obedient, there is a glaring issue – he has no arms. Even in a procedure where his limited motor skills are sufficient, I’m not sure he could get high enough to even reach a hospital bed, which could be a real problem.

R2D2 from Star Wars:

Famously heroic, calm under pressure – the perfect robo-surgeon? Sadly, I think there’s a major downfall of R2D2 compared to his cyber-colleagues: he can’t speak a human language. A good surgeon needs to communicate with their patient and give them instructions and advice for after the surgery that I don’t think R2 can manage to do with a series of beeps and buzzes.

It seems that none of sci-fi’s greatest android’s can fully replace a surgeon, who knew? At Team, we’re constantly working on exciting projects, advancing robotics in surgery to make procedures safer and more efficient, and even if these robots can’t shoot lasers or fall in love, we think they’re pretty cool.

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