Lincoln company to send world’s first mini surgical robot to space
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Surgery used to mean being cut open, but Virtual Incision in Lincoln is looking to change that with miniature robots.
The company’s co-founder, Shane Farritor, has been building robots since the ’90s.
“My parents owned a hardware store, so I have always been sort of a fix-it, take-it-apart kind of guy,” he said.
Since entering the industry, Farritor has worked on several robotics projects, including the Mars rovers. But later on, he pivoted toward making robots for surgical use.
This led to Farritor teaming up with a surgeon to begin Virtual Incision.
“I made Mars rovers, he did surgery, and we combined the two,” he said. “But that got us going and got us on a good path.”
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Virtual Incision created the world’s first Miniaturized Robotic Assisted Surgery Platform, or MIRA.
Farritor and his team developed MIRA in hopes of making surgery easier both in and out of a hospital.
Now, MIRA is heading to space.
NASA has taken an interest in the project, and the robot will be sent to the International Space Station sometime in the next year.
“The hope is that our robot will be up in the International Space Station, and it will be controlled from a ground station here on Earth,” Farritor said.
Farritor said the research on the space station will be a huge step toward what he calls “telesurgery.”
And Farritor is happy that his background in space robotics is being tied into his current research.
“In some ways, it’s a natural combination of the two, and a lot of the things that make our device useful in a space environment also make it useful on Earth,” he said.