Introduction: Robotic surgery today and tomorrow

      The development and use of tools remains a defining characteristic of Homo sapiens. The first hunter-gatherers modified their devices according to need. In a similar fashion, the development and use of surgical tools has defined our craft since the first bone needles were used in prehistoric times.
      From simple surgical tool modification (eg, the Kocher clamp to facilitate thyroid grasping) to revolutionizing tools and technology (eg, cardiopulmonary bypass or videolaparoscopy), progress in surgical capability has depended on constant evolution of surgical instruments and technology. A simple look around the operating room is cause to reflect on the myriad of clamps, retractors, and catheters that have been developed in the endless bedside-to-bench-to-bedside cycle through which the process of innovation occurs. Enter surgical robotics.
      In this supplement to The American Journal of Surgery, international pioneers from many fields, all with special expertise in surgical robotics, have been assembled to authoritatively report on the state of our art and craft. We have engaged leading surgeons to cover broadly the application of surgical robotic techniques to nearly all surgical disciplines. From inception to current application and on to future speculation, we have tried to cover it all.
      We are thankful to all of the authors for their thoughtful and timely contributions. We also are particularly grateful to David Dionne and his staff for their patience throughout the editorial process. Finally, we recognize that “state of the art” today should become pedestrian tomorrow. This will only happen if the next generation is inspired to reach higher. We sincerely hope that this issue, in some small way, does just that.