Comparative analysis of the functionality of simulators of the da Vinci surgical robot



The implementation of robotic technology in minimally invasive surgery has led to the need to develop more efficient and effective training methods, as well as assessment and skill maintenance tools for surgical education. Multiple simulators and procedures are available for educational and training purposes. A need for comparative evaluations of these simulators exists to aid users in selecting an appropriate device for their purposes.


We conducted an objective review and comparison of the design and capabilities of all dedicated simulators of the da Vinci robot, the da Vinci Skill Simulator (DVSS) (Intuitive Surgical Inc., Sunnyvale, CA, USA), dV-Trainer (dVT) (Mimic Technologies Inc., Seattle, WA, USA), and Robotic Surgery Simulator (RoSS) (Simulated Surgical Skills, LLC, Williamsville, NY, USA). This provides base specifications of the hardware and software, with an emphasis on the training capabilities of each system.


Each simulator contains a large number of training exercises, DVSS = 40, dVT = 65, and RoSS = 52 for skills development. All three offer 3D visual images but use different display technologies. The DVSS leverages the real robotic surgeon’s console to provide visualization, hand controls, and foot pedals. The dVT and RoSS created simulated versions of all of these control systems. They include systems management services which allow instructors to collect, export, and analyze the scores of students using the simulators.


This study is the first to provide comparative information of the three simulators functional capabilities with an emphasis on their educational skills. They offer unique advantages and capabilities in training robotic surgeons. Each device has been the subject of multiple validation experiments which have been published in the literature. But those do not provide specific details on the capabilities of the simulators which are necessary for an understanding sufficient to select the one best suited for an organization’s needs.

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The authors wish to thank the following representatives of each simulator company for their assistance in collecting data and images, as well as verifying the accuracy of the contents of the paper. Peter Dominick, Intuitive Surgical Inc.; Jeff Berkley, Mimic Technologies, Inc.; and Kesh Kesavadas, Simulated Surgical Systems, LLC.

da Vinci Skills Simulator photos ©2013 Intuitive Surgical, Inc. Used with permission. dV-Trainer Simulator photos ©2013 Mimic Technologies, Inc. Used with permission. RoSS Simulator photos ©2013 Simulated Surgical Systems, LLC. Used with permission.

Funding Source

U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center. Grant #: W81XWH-11-2-0158.


Florida Hospital has received a research grant from Mimic Technologies Inc. for a project unrelated to this study. Roger Smith, Mireille Truong and Manuela Perez have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

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Correspondence to Roger Smith.

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Smith, R., Truong, M. & Perez, M. Comparative analysis of the functionality of simulators of the da Vinci surgical robot. Surg Endosc 29, 972–983 (2015) doi:10.1007/s00464-014-3748-7

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  • Robotic surgery
  • Robotic simulator
  • Training
  • Education
  • Comparative analysis