MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Intuitive Surgical Inc.’s (NSDQ:ISRG) da Vinci robot may have applications that take it beyond our planet.
NASA scientists and researchers at Johns Hopkins University are looking at the medical machine to see if it may could one day help repair or refuel satellites in orbit.
Sending robots to space is far less costly and dangerous than sending a human to repair the satellites, and human operators would still be in control of the remotely operated da Vinci system.
With the manual dexterity to navigate delicate human systems, the da Vinci robot is already manipulating an industrial robot at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, according to a press release. One task in particular involves cutting the plastic tape that holds a satellite’s thermal insulation blanket in place to expose the refueling port.
The task promises to be much more challenging in orbit, where the distance between the operator and the robot will create a delay in feedback between when instructions are given and when the da Vinci system responds. The team is working on technologies to compensate for the delay.
This adds to the list of non-health related tasks the robot has starred in, including dancing, peeling a grape and folding a paper airplane.
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