In the near future, NASA and other space agencies will send astronauts beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for the first time in over 50 years. But unlike the Apollo era, these missions consist of astronauts spending long periods of time on the Moon, traveling to and from Mars (with months of surface maneuvers in between). In addition, commercialization of LEO and cis lunar space is also planned. That means millions of people can live in space and surface settlements far beyond Earth.
This poses many challenges, including the possibility that the sick or injured may not be licensed doctors to perform potentially life-saving surgeries. To address this, Professor Shane Fariter of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Nebraska Innovation His Campus (NIC) and his colleagues developed a miniaturized in vivo robot his assistant (MIRA). did. In 2024, this portable, miniaturized, robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) platform will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) for a test mission to assess its ability to perform medical procedures in space.
Fariter is a David and Lederer Engineering Professor at the University of Nebraska, having studied robotics at MIT. During his undergraduate years, he worked with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory to support NASA’s Mars Rover (MER) program. This consists of Curiosity Rover and Perseverance helping design and assemble his rovers, defining their operating plans, and inventing the process of using the rover’s sun detector to determine its orientation. It was done.
In 2006, a former professor of surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), he co-founded Virtual Incision, a NIC-based startup with Dmitry Oleynikov. In April 2022, Farritor was named an inaugural recipient of the University of Nebraska’s Undergraduate IP Innovation and Commercialization Award for Intellectual Property. For nearly two decades, Farritor, Oleynikov, and colleagues have developed his MIRA robotic surgery suite, which has earned him over $100 million in venture capital.
On Earth, this technology is already enabling doctors to help people in remote areas where medical services are not readily available. However, the MIRA technique has the added advantage of performing surgery autonomously. That means astronauts working on the Moon or Mars can get medical care without the need for a human surgeon. John Murphy, his CEO of Virtual Incision, said in his recent company press release:
NASA recently invested 100,000 in Virtual Incision through the Competitive Research Stimulus (EPSCoR) program established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) to help NIC engineers and roboticists prepare for testing on the Support ISS. awarded a dollar grant. Compared to traditional robotic surgery suites, MIRA has his two advantages. First, the device can be inserted through small incisions, allowing doctors to perform minimally invasive surgeries (such as abdominal surgery and colectomy). Second, the technology has the potential to enable telemedicine, allowing surgeons to operate remotely and provide services away from medical facilities.
“The Virtual Incision MIRA platform was designed to deliver the power of a mainframe robotic surgical device in a reduced size, with the goal of making RAS accessible to every operating room worldwide. Aboard the space station, our joint work with NASA will test how MIRA can make operations accessible to even the most remote locations.”
Over the next year, Faritar will work with engineering student Rachel Wagner to prepare her MIRA for operation on the ISS. Wagner started working at Farritor as an undergraduate and after earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, in 2018 he accepted a position at Virtual Incision. This included writing the software, configuring his MIRA to fit in a lab cabinet, testing the device to be robust enough to function as desired for launch on a rocket and in space. This includes making sure there is
In August 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted the first successful remote surgery as part of a clinical trial under the U.S. Investigational Device Exemption (IDE). The Procedure – Dr. Michael A. Jobst, Bryan Medical Center, Lincoln, Nebraska – It consisted of a right hemicolectomy (removing half of the colon), performed with a single incision inside the navel. Dr Jobst said: “The MIRA platform is truly a breakthrough platform for general surgery and we are very pleased to be the first surgeon in the world to use this system. We look forward to contributing to the first steps towards greater access to robotic surgery with clear benefits for patients.”
In another experiment, former astronaut Clayton Anderson (former NASA astronaut) operated his MIRA from the Johnson Space Center and operated in the operating room at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, 1450 km (900 miles) away. I have assigned it to perform a task like In the next test on the ISS, MIRA will operate autonomously without the help of a controller. In this test, a robot cuts a tight rubber band (simulating skin) and pushes a metal ring along a wire (simulating delicate manipulation). “These simulations are very important because of all the data we collect during testing,” Wagner said in his release to the Nebraska Press. The test will be the robot’s most autonomous operation yet, designed to conserve space station communication bandwidth and minimize the time astronauts spend experimenting. However, the purpose of this mission is not to demonstrate the robot’s (yet limited) autonomy, but to optimize its behavior in zero gravity. These experiments will help validate the technology for future long-term missions inside and outside LEO. As fariter said:
“NASA has ambitious plans for long-term space travel, and it is important to test the capabilities of the technology, which could benefit missions that span months or years. MIRA continues to push the boundaries of what is possible with RAS and is pleased with its performance in clinical trials to date. We are excited to take it a step further and explore what the future will enable as space travel becomes more of a reality for humanity. ” As humans move farther and farther from Earth, they need to be as self-sufficient as possible. On the Moon, Mars, and elsewhere in space, resupply missions are impractical, as is flying doctors and patients to and from those locations. This not only requires that they grow their own food, utilize local resources to meet their needs (ISRU), rely on bioregenerative life support systems, and be able to generate electricity locally, but also medical care, etc. This means that the basic services of Execute the operation.
- The International Space Station is receiving a remote surgical robot
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