In 2024, the International Space Station will host a surgical robot

By TechThop Team

Posted on: 23 Aug, 2022

It is possible that robots could carry out remote and autonomous surgery in deep space one day.

MIRA, a tiny robot, will perform simulated medical procedures in microgravity aboard the International Space Station in 2024.

'MIRA,' or a 'Miniaturized in vivo Robotic Assistant,' will be launched to the International Space Station thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Department of Energy's Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research which will support this project.

This technology could in the future offer a solution to medical emergencies requiring surgical intervention while astronauts are far from home, for example, on a Mars mission.

As a first step, MIRA will operate inside an experimental locker the size of a microwave aboard the International Space Station in 2024.

The robot will be subjected to autonomous tests during which stretched rubber bands will be cut and metal rings will be pushed along a wire, mimicking surgery movements.

'NASA has been a long-term supporter of the research, and our robot will have an opportunity to fly on the International Space Station,' Shane Farritor, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said in a statement.

As part of the project, Farritor and his team will develop custom software for MIRA, modify the robot so it can fit inside a space station experiment container, and conduct tests to ensure MIRA will work as intended in space and can survive a flight.

The colon resection device has been successfully used by surgeons in previous tests. As part of the project, a former NASA astronaut has used MIRA to perform surgery-like tasks from 900 miles away from the operating room.

It was developed by Virtual Incision, a startup co-founded by Farritor in 2006 and backed by more than $100 million in venture capital.

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