Surgical robot will be tested on the International Space Station in 2024
2022-08-08: [Article Link] The International Space Station is located in near-Earth orbit, approximately 409 kilometres from the surface and one week per 90 minutes around the Earth at a speed of 7.8 km per second, and the International Space Station is located in near-Earth orbit, approximately 409 km from the surface and one week per 90 minutes around the Earth at a speed of 7.8 km per second.
With the support and sponsorship of NASA over the years, scientists in Nebraska in the United States succeeded in building this robot called MIRA, meaning "small living robot assistants". Scientists claim that it can help astronauts repair broken appendix tails in future Mars missions or remove shrapnel from the military on distant battlefields.
The MIRA robot is a work of Shane Farrit, a professor at the Lincoln School of Engineering at the University of Nebraska. In April this year, NASA announced that it had awarded $100,000 to the University to prepare the robot for a test mission in 2024.
Shane Farrit, Professor of Engineering, University of Nebraska, was the inventor of the MIRA robot.
"NASA has long supported this research. Our robots have the opportunity to board the ISS."
The MIRA robot weighs only two pounds (approximately 0.9 kg) and has a large cylindrical shape, with two mobile operating arms at the bottom, each with a mini-printing tool, one for capture and the other for cutting. One day in the future, they will cut and grip real human organs and tissues, but for security reasons, many years of research and development and testing will be required. At present, the robot can insert surgical tools into the body through a single incision of the patient's abdomen and is controlled by a surgeon through a side control table, but in the future it can be automated.
“As people get further and further away from space, perhaps one day they will need surgery.” Professor Falit said, “We are working towards that goal.”
On board the International Space Station, MIRA will complete its work independently and without the help of a doctor or astronaut, but these operations will not use a real human tissue. Instead, it will simulate operations in a microwave-sized laboratory, such as cutting tight rubber bands, pushing metal rings on wires and so on. According to Professor Falit, however, MIRA will not be able to operate independently until another 50 to 100 years. The 2024 test is not aimed at automating robots, but rather at fine-tuning their operational capabilities in a zero-gravity environment.
The equipment was programmed to be independently tested, thereby reducing the occupancy of the station's communications bandwidth and minimizing the time spent by astronauts on the experiment.
"Astronauts just have to turn on the switch, and robots start experimenting themselves. In two hours, astronauts turn the switch off."
Professor Farlit and the University's graduate in engineering, Rachel Wagner, will be working together next year to complete the final pre-launch refinement and, through the development of software, to enable MIRA to operate in the experiment box of the Space Station; in addition, a large number of extreme tests will have to be carried out on the equipment to ensure that it is able to survive the launch process and that it can work as intended in space. MIRA's surgical performance has been validated on the ground. In a previous experiment, former NASA cosmonaut Clayton Anderson tried to manipulate the robot at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, directing MIRA to perform a series of imitation operations in an operating room.
Farite and his colleagues have been working on MIRA for almost 20 years. In 2006, he started the MirtualIncision project together with his partners. Since its creation, the company has attracted more than $100 million in wind investment.
On the morning of 4 August, Beijing time, it was reported that a robot “surgeon” would be sent to ISS for testing and could one day even operate independently in space.