NASA and University of Washington researchers plan on testing a mobile surgical robot in an underwater capsule next month

NASA researchers have spent a large amount of time looking into different forms of technology that would allow them to conduct potentially life-saving operations on patients in remote areas.  To help, researchers from the University of Washington have been working on a portable robotic surgeon that can allow surgeons to operate while being remotely located miles away.  The surgeon -- which researchers named Raven -- will begin testing in May.

Raven will be located in an underwater capsule off the coast of Florida while attempting to sew up a piece of rubber.  The mission crew will be comprised of two NASA astronauts, a surgeon and a NASA flight surgeon, with the team expected to closely monitor the robot's movements while it works in the capsule.  Three surgeons located at a different location will be controlling Raven's arms during the experiment.

University of Washington researchers from the BioRobics Lab have spent the past five years building Raven.

Many larger hospitals already have surgical robots that are able to be operated by a human controller, but they are often times too big and too heavy to be efficient for mobile purposes.  However, Raven weighs 50 pounds and is small enough to be located on the back of an armored vehicle or in a space shuttle storage compartment.

Robots like Raven could have a strong impact around the world.  UW researchers believe that it could be used in disaster areas so doctors would be able to perform procedures in remote areas without physically being there.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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