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The paper describes a design specification process for the development of novel and intelligent surgical robots. Nowadays, surgical robots are usually controlled by the surgeons manually by using teleoperation. The possibility to carry out simple surgical actions automatically has been the subject of academical research, but very few real-world applications exist. The main objective of this research is to address realistic case studies and develop systems and methods to provide surgeons with autonomous robotic assistants, performing basic surgical actions by combining sensing, dexterity and cognitive capabilities. This goal can only be achieved by means of a formal and rigorous assesment of surgical requirements, so that they can be analysed and translated into behavioral specifications for an autonomous robotic system. Therefore, the paper describes the application of Requirements Engineering to surgical knowledge formalization and propose a methodology for the transformation of requirements into formal models of robotic tasks.