An unmanned robot has been used to stitch together a pig's bowel, moving science a step closer to automated surgery, say experts.
Unlike existing machines, the Star robot is self-controlled - it doesn't need to be guided by a surgeon's hands.
In tests on pigs, it at least matched trained doctors at mending cut bowel, Science Translational Medicine reports.
But it is very early days and it remains to be seen if people would trust such a "hands-off" approach.
Robots performing surgery are not new. Hospitals in the UK and the US already use robot assistants to help cut out hard-to-reach tumours, such as prostate cancer.
These devices, such as the da Vinci System, are an extension of the surgeon - gadgets that give the operator better sight of the target and more adept tools to get the job done.
But scientists are now trying create a new generation of robots that will work independently, albeit under close supervision, to remove human error.
In theory, the medical team could sit back and watch the machine perform, and only get involved if necessary.
Robots are best suited for repetitive, predictable work. Getting them to stitch soft tissue that slips and slides around in the body when it is manipulated is a challenge, foreign media reports.