15 Sep 2022

Operations in orbit

A tiny robot which could carry out remote and autonomous surgery is being sent to the International Space Station. The Miniaturised in vivo Robotic Assistant – known as MIRA – will perform simulated procedures during the test mission in 2024.

The technology could solve the problem of treating astronauts in space during medical emergencies. It would allow doctors on Earth to carry out vital surgery remotely during missions and could also be used during future expeditions to Mars. As well as treating astronauts in space, it’s hoped the system’s miniature size will also help increase access to robotic surgery in terrestrial healthcare facilities.

The MIRA platform was developed by engineering professor Shane Farritor at Virtual Incision, which is based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Nebraska Innovation Campus. He said: “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.”

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