Scrub nurse robots
You may have heard of Penelope form Robotic Systems and Technologies, an automated robot for hospital's sterile supply department, where used/dirty surgical instruments are cleaned, sorted, inspected, and repacked into containers, to be sterilized for the next procedure. The robot counts, sorts, inspects, scans, arranges and packs tools. Penelope assisted its first human procedure in 2008, and it has also been working together with SRI's M7 robot. Yet there is a lot more robotics out there in OR and workflow assistance!
"Robotic scrub nurses (RSN) are a type of auxiliary support robots that has some level of autonomy and cognitive capabilities. For example, Kochan et al., developed “Penelope” which delivers and retrieves surgical instruments and is controlled by voice. Another voice-controlled robot developed by Carpintero et al. relies on computer vision techniques to recognize, pick and return surgical instruments."
Within the frames of the DARPA-sponsored Trauma Pod (TP) project, a robotic TP system was developed and its capability demonstrated by performing selected surgical procedures on a patient phantom. The da Vinci robot was services by another robot in a demo, back in 2007.
The student team of Purdue has already achieved nice results. The research started before 2007, and a working prototype was presented in 2011. (See the MedGadget article and a paper form those times.) A more recent publication contains the technical details of the system: "A Cyber-Physical Management System for Delivering and Monitoring Surgical Instruments in the OR".
"Previous research on surgical extenders robots includes an assistive robot for object picking, haptic feedback controlled robots, such as SOFIE or Agovic’s robots." The Japanese have also developed a prototype system. (See their paper from 2007.)