Laparoscopic surgery has been performed for the first time using a robotic assistant at the Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Victoria, in Malaga, Spain.

The robot, manufactured by Spanish firm Sener, is voice controlled and able to move an endoscope with the precision needed for minimally evasive procedures.

The robot has been jointly developed with the medical robotics group of the University of Malaga, which developed the prototype and ran the clinical trials.

In 2004 a prototype was successfully tested, with surgical trials on humans and animals run in 2007. During testing, surgeons found that the robot significantly reduced the amount of time they spent operating by minimising tiredness that was caused by deep concentration.

Víctor Muñoz, who is leading the project at the University of Malaga, said: “When you operate with this type of robot, there is the problem of knowing exactly where the incision point must be made so as to know how deep the optical device should be introduced.

However, he said that the University of Malaga’s robot, which was financed with just €18,000 of initial investment. The Spanish surgical robot uses control algorithms and has a passive wrist in its articulated arm, which allows it to move it in any direction ensuring accuracy when making incisions.

The robot is said to quickly start up, requires minimal maintenance and can easily adapted to different operating theatres.

It has now been turned into a commercial product and is being used regularly at the hospital. Since the robot was patented in Spain, patent rights have been extended to the EU, Japan and USA, licensing rights have been exclusively granted to Sener.