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In the last century, engineering advances have transformed the practice of surgery. Keyhole surgical techniques offer a number of advantages over traditional open approaches including less postoperative pain, fewer wound complications, and reduced length of stay in hospital. However, they also present considerable technical challenges, particularly to surgeons performing new operative approaches, such as those through natural orifices. Advances in surgical robots have improved surgical visualization, dexterity, and manipulation consistency, thus greatly enhancing surgical performance and patient care. Clinically, however, robotic surgery is still in its infancy, and its use has remained limited to relatively few operations. In the paper, we will discuss the economic-, clinical-, and research-related factors that may act as barriers to the widespread utilization and development of surgical robots. In overcoming these barriers through a synergistic effort of both engineering and medicine, we highlight our future vision of robotic surgery, in both the short and long term.