A robot can replace a medium-sized general hospital. This will be a must for travel to Mars.
As we all know, the space race is not just to satisfy the passion of human exploration. They also incubate many technologies that have already surfaced.
In case you didn’t know, wireless headphones, laptops, LED lights, computer mice, cell phone cameras to tech sneakers, water purifiers, air purifiers, solar cells, braces, eye surgery LASIK, insulin pumps and prosthetics… . Find a way to send humans into space.
Now, scientists predict that a very advanced technology is on the way: automated surgical robots.
Currently, our robots can perform many medical procedures, including pelvic surgery, spine surgery, eye surgery, submeningeal injections…all of which require high precision.
However, current surgical robots are only semi-autonomous. That is, they are designed as a machine, under the control of technicians and doctors.
Surgeons who want to operate the machine must also take certification courses, such as a driver’s license. Self-driving medical robots, like self-driving cars, are still science fiction.
The field needs catalysts
Earlier this year, Johns Hopkins University came closest to a fully automated surgical robot, performing the first complex soft-tissue surgery using a machine called STAR.
STAR is an intelligently programmed robot that successfully fuses two intestines together. This is the most complicated procedure in abdominal surgery.
But why don’t we include the STAR robot among the robots mentioned above? That’s because, even though STAR is fully automated, the patient it treats is just a pig.
However, Johns Hopkins still sees it as a feat, “a giant step toward fully automated human surgery.” They asked the question: When will we get to that fictional future?
“I think it’s going to be decades, at least decades away,” said Dr. Tamir Wolf, CEO of Theator, which develops an AI-driven platform for automated surgery.
“I think it’s up to the space race again. Because that’s where the value of automated surgery comes in.”
Robots can replace medium-sized general hospitals
Unlike missions in Earth orbit, the International Space Station or even the Moon, future missions to Mars and deep space will be very long, Dr Wolfe said.
Assuming an optimal orbit like the movie Mars, the most powerful human spacecraft would take 260 days to reach the Red Planet. In addition to mission time and the time they fly back, missions can last for years.
Such a long space travel presents many medical risks to the crew. While we can bring doctors, real doctors are not enough.
If you need bowel surgery, brain surgery, heart surgery, you really need different doctors. Basically, if you want to save the lives of astronauts, you have to downsize a mid-sized general hospital and fit it into a spaceship.
Or develop an automated surgical robot and load different programs into it. This second direction of development is clearly more promising. A robot that doesn’t take up much space, consumes no oxygen, and doesn’t drink water, if programmed properly, will work with absolute precision.
Remember, Elon Musk’s Neuralink is also developing a robotic arm for brain surgery that can sew electrodes one-fifth the thickness of a human hair into the cerebral cortex. To do this accurately, the robotic arm is programmed to counteract the vibrations emitted by the patient’s breathing and heart rate.
Self-driving cars, followed by self-driving robots
Elon Musk’s tech ecosystem apparently supports each other very smoothly. He is developing surgical robots and has ambitions to send humans to Mars. Also, self-driving cars.
“If you look at the development of surgical robotics and compare it to what’s happening in the automotive industry, you’ll see similarities between them,” Dr. Wolff said.
Now we have to drive our own cars, just like doctors have to control the robotic arms themselves. But both fields are moving towards semi-automation, a type of software that assists partially autonomous driving.
“Then there’s the full automation of conditions, where the car starts to understand its environment. Then there’s the highly automated technology where the car engages. Decision-making, and finally full automation,” explains Dr. Wolff.