Got some time to kill on orbit, astronauts? Why not have that elective surgery you've been thinking about?
The Associated Press reports today that doctors and scientists from the University of Washington are working with NASA to develop a surgical robot that could work in the crowded confines of a space vehicle.
According to the article, "The portable robot, which can be controlled over the Internet by a human surgeon many miles away, is being developed with money from the U.S. Defense Department to be used to treat wounded soldiers on a battlefield, to perform complicated surgery on patients in remote areas of the developing world and to help sick astronauts in space.
"The difference between the robot surgeon demonstrated at the University of Washington on Wednesday and others that are being used today in American hospitals involves portability and communications, said Professor Blake Hannaford, co-director of the UW BioRobotics Lab.
"All the portable parts of this device weigh about 50 pounds and can be transported and reconstructed by non-engineers at remote sites. Robot surgeons currently being used in hospitals weigh several thousand pounds, are not portable and can't be easily broken down and reconstructed."
Update: DT gougemaster and Inside Defense guru Dan Dupont rightly flags the error of a "surgery in space" post sans "Silent Running" reference. Thanks, Dan.Ward