UNMC, UNL team testing mini-robots in space-like conditions

May 6, 2014

UNMC and UNL researchers are testing whether mini-robots could perform surgery in space.

UNMC surgical fellow Dr. Anton Simorov tests one of the mini-robots during a zero-G aircraft flight last week.
Credit UNMC

A team developed the robots for NASA, who wanted to determine if robots could perform emergency surgery in a zero-gravity environment. Shane Farritor is one of the engineers who built the robots. Farritor says the team flew two robots on NASA’s zero-G aircraft last week.

"The robots were enclosed in a clear plastic case, and the surgeon would step up during zero-G flight and try to operate the robots in these kind of wacky conditions. The robots had these little rubber bands mounted to a fixture next to them, so their job was to grab the rubber band and cut at a pre-determined mark just to see how accurately we could execute this in zero G."

Farritor says the robots performed well during the flight. He says the team might fly again to gather additional results.

Farritor says an emergency surgery in space is an extreme situation. But he says the robots could play an important role in major surgeries, helping to reduce recovery time.