Portable Robot Tested in Undersea Lab

Tuesday, April 11, 2006
As part of the April 3-20 NEEMO (for NASA Extreme Environmental Mission Operation) 9 project, a joint effort of the U.S. space agency NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and McMaster University’s Center for Minimal Access Surgery (CMAS) at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, surgeon Mehran Anvari, took part in a six-hour experiment using a new, portable robot prototype system to stitch a simulated patient aboard the undersea laboratory Aquarius off Key Largo, Florida. According to the Hamilton Spectator, Anvari made a big breakthrough by overcoming a one-second delay between his movements and those of the robot arms 2,000 kilometers away and 19 meters underwater. In the 1990s, it was thought to be impossible to do telerobotic surgery directly with the delay of more than 400 milliseconds (four-tenths of a second). Anvari had hoped to try a delay of two seconds -- the time it would take signals to reach the moon or be relayed via two satellites from overseas, but electronic glitches put jitters in the robot arms and one locked up when a part came loose. The team plans to send the faulty arm to the surface for repairs, before its next attempt, when the plan is to use the same tool to pick up moon rocks. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
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