From what sounds like a merger of Virgin Airways, Virgin Health, and Virgin Galactic, researchers from SRI International and the University of Cincinnati will be flying the C-9 “weightless wonder”, comparing the performance of a robotic surgical robot outfitted with SRI’s control software to a real surgeon with a brain and heartbeat.
The experiment will compare the precision and speed with which both human and robot surgeons can cut and stitch an incision, among other things. The SRI-developed software will help robo-doc compensate for the “errors in movement” that could be expected whether flying through space or over a battlefield in a medivac flight.
The SRI telerobotics allow the robot surgery to be controlled from thousands of miles away. When perfected, this system would allow patient care to begin the minute they close the ambulance door, according to Silicon Valley-based SRI.
“In remote telesurgery, a surgeon controls a multi-armed robot located at the patient’s bedside from a distant location using a telecommunications network,” SRI’s Thomas Low said. “This has the potential to provide emergency medical and surgical care to astronauts during space flights, soldiers injured in battle and patients living in remote regions on Earth where there are no physicians.”