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posted by janrinok on Saturday August 06 2022, @07:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the careful-with-that-knife-MIRA dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

NASA recently awarded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln $100,000 through the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) at the University of Nebraska Omaha to ready the surgical robot for a 2024 test mission aboard the International Space Station.

"NASA has been a long-term supporter of this research and, as a culmination of that effort, our robot will have a chance to fly on the International Space Station," Farritor said.

[...] During the next year, Farritor and engineering graduate student Rachael Wagner will write software, configure MIRA to fit inside a space station experiment locker and exhaustively test the device to make sure it's robust enough to survive launch and its systems will perform as anticipated in space. Then, they will wait a year or so for the robot to get its turn aboard the station.

Wagner, who is from Lincoln, began working with Farritor as an undergraduate student and took a position with Virtual Incision after completing her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 2018. A second graduate student may join the team later in 2022.

MIRA has two key advantages. First, it can be inserted through a small incision, enabling doctors to perform abdominal surgery in a minimally invasive manner. In previous tests, surgeons have successfully used the device to perform colon resections.

Secondly, the technology could enable surgeons to work remotely—perhaps someday repairing an astronaut's ruptured appendix on a mission to Mars or removing shrapnel from a soldier injured by an IED thousands of miles distant. In a previous experiment, retired NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson took the robot's controls while at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, directing MIRA to perform surgery-like tasks in an operating room 900 miles away at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 06 2022, @09:39PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 06 2022, @09:39PM (#1265348)

    On A Grape In Space

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 06 2022, @11:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 06 2022, @11:20PM (#1265357)

      Music for grape surgery!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 07 2022, @03:27AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 07 2022, @03:27AM (#1265373)

      Let me suggest sex change one.

  • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Saturday August 06 2022, @10:39PM (1 child)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Saturday August 06 2022, @10:39PM (#1265354)

    A place where there is 0% chance a real surgeon could take over when (nope, there is no if here) things go south.

    Seriously. One would think the test bed would be a busy hospital in a place with several surgeons watching live, not on pager duty.

    Why is tamales pronounced tamales but females is pronounced females instead of females?
    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Sunday August 07 2022, @12:48AM

      by Immerman (3985) on Sunday August 07 2022, @12:48AM (#1265367)

      I suspect they're specifically testing the changes made for operating in space - not exactly anywhere else you can test it. And it's not like they're likely to be testing it on people until it's been proven in simulated surgeries.

      And personally, I'd much prefer risking a remote surgeon with no fallback to dying before I got to a real surgeon.

      Meanwhile in practice, at least early on, the reality will almost certainly be a remote specialist assisted by the on-site jack-of-many-trades generalist who would otherwise be doing it themselves and praying. And as space gets industrialized there's a good chance that generalist on hand won't actually have much more training than a battlefield medic.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by mmlj4 on Saturday August 06 2022, @11:10PM

    by mmlj4 (5451) on Saturday August 06 2022, @11:10PM (#1265355) Homepage one can hear you scream.

    Need a Linux consultant [] in New Orleans?
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Immerman on Sunday August 07 2022, @01:01AM (1 child)

    by Immerman (3985) on Sunday August 07 2022, @01:01AM (#1265368)

    Remote surgery on a mission to Mars? Really? I would think the multiple minutes of unavoidable round trip communication lag would make any remote surgery impossible. Even the five seconds of lag to the moon would make any sort of direct control incredibly difficult.

    Meanwhile, the only autonomous aspect appears to be the hardware test.

    Sure, the right hardware for remote surgery is going to have substantial overlap with the right hardware for autonomous surgery - but to "borrow" credit for the latter while working on the former is rather like claiming credit for the eventual possibility of cardiac bypass surgery while knapping a flint knife.

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Sunday August 07 2022, @10:40AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 07 2022, @10:40AM (#1265417) Journal

      You know, the caveman who first learned to throw stones on targets did the first step on developing gravity-assisted space manoeuvres: He set an object in motion whose trajectory then was determined by the gravity of a nearby planet, and managed to get it to arrive at the desired place.

      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.