Robotic heart surgery is an approach to heart procedures that is already established and that can be accomplished with much less invasion of the body. There is no opening of the breastbone and no spreading of the ribs.
The major difference is not having to open the breastbone. Other differences that aren't immediately apparent, but are important to me [as the surgeon] include the fact that I can see the mitral valve much better than if I do the bigger incision. It may sound paradoxical, but the view of the mitral valve when I do robotic surgery is excellent. It allows me to be more sophisticated in my approach to repairing the valve, which turns out to be important.