Remote surgery robot tested on International Space Station | Science & Technology News

A miniature robot designed to help conduct remote surgeries could be tested on the International Space Station before the end of 2024.

Ultimately, the surgical robot could be used to repair “an astronaut’s ruptured appendix during a mission to Mars,” the researchers behind it say.

NASA has awarded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln $100,000 to prepare the robot for its experimental mission — however, the plans for the first trip into space do not involve activity on human flesh.

Instead, the robot, known as MIRA – short for “miniature in vivo robotic assistant” – will be fully tested while inside a laboratory cabinet on the space station.

The lab cabinet is about the size of a microwave, and inside it is MIRA that will work on its own – without the need for a doctor or astronaut to guide.

MIRA will have to gently cut into stretchy rubber bands and also push metal rings along a wire, mimicking the gestures used in surgery.

The test will be the most automated operation the robot has completed to date.

The inventors “anticipate that MIRA will operate on its own in 50 to 100 years, the goal of this mission is not autonomy, but to fine-tune the robot’s operation in zero-gravity conditions,” the school said. university said.

By programming MIRA to operate independently, it will save the space station’s bandwidth and reduce the time astronauts have to spend on experiments.

Inventor Shane Farritor, a professor of engineering at the University of Nebraska, said: “The astronaut turns on a switch, the process starts and the robot does its job. Two hours later, the astronaut turns it off. and it’s done,” said inventor Shane Farritor, a professor of engineering at the University of Nebraska.

MIRA is a robotic surgical tool.  Photo: Virtual cut
MIRA is a robotic surgical tool. Photo: Virtual cut

Miniature robots are being developed by Professor Farritor’s company Virtual Incision.

Professor Farritor and graduate student Rachel Wagner will configure MIRA so that it fits in the lockers on the ISS.

Ms. Wagner took up the position of Virtual Incision after completing her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2018.

The pair are expected to spend the next year writing software and testing MIRA to make sure it survives its launch into space when it’s finally their turn to travel.

According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, MIRA has two main advantages.

“First, it can be inserted through a small incision, making it possible for doctors to operate on the abdomen in a minimally invasive way. In previous trials, surgeons have successfully used the device to perform a colectomy.

“Secondly, this technology could allow surgeons to work remotely. In an earlier experiment, retired NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson piloted the robot while at Johnson Space Center in Houston.”

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