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Surgical Robots Could Fix NASA SatelliteSurgical Robots Could Fix NASA Satellite

Ann R. Thryft

January 25, 2012

2 Min Read
Surgical Robots Could Fix NASA Satellite

A modified Da Vinci surgical robot is helping NASA study how robots can refuel and service space satellites, remotely controlled from Earth. The agency's Notional Robotic Servicing Mission is looking for ways that fully robotic spacecraft can perform servicing of GEO (geosynchronous earth orbit) satellites in space, avoiding the cost and danger of sending astronauts to do the same job.

In a recent demonstration, engineering and computer science graduate students at Johns Hopkins University's campus in Baltimore modified a Da Vinci surgical robot console and used it and a workstation to control an industrial robot at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 30 miles away. The modified surgical robot also included a 3D eyepiece, which allowed the Baltimore operator to guide the remote industrial robot. The Da Vinci robot's 3D HD vision system gives operators 3D high-definition video displays for accurate depth perception, as well as an immersive experience that feels as if the robot is a virtual extension of the operator's body.


About the Author(s)

Ann R. Thryft

Ann R. Thryft has written about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for Design News, EE Times, Test & Measurement World, EDN, RTC Magazine, COTS Journal, Nikkei Electronics Asia, Computer Design, and Electronic Buyers' News (EBN). She's introduced readers to several emerging trends: industrial cybersecurity for operational technology, industrial-strength metals 3D printing, RFID, software-defined radio, early mobile phone architectures, open network server and switch/router architectures, and set-top box system design. At EBN Ann won two independently judged Editorial Excellence awards for Best Technology Feature. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University and a Certified Business Communicator certificate from the Business Marketing Association (formerly B/PAA).

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