Who is Dr. Shane Farritor?

Dr. Shane Farritor, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studied at the Kennedy Space Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and Goddard Space Flight Center where he conducted satellite testing before receiving his M.S. and Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994 and 1998, respectively.

What is Dr. Farritor’s experience working on the Mars Exploration Rover?

During his time at MIT, Dr. Farritor helped lead research to support the Mars Exploration Rover. Along with his colleagues, Farritor built rovers, helped define the motion planning, and worked on the design of Mars rovers – specifically the use of sun sensors to detect a rover’s direction of travel. These efforts were eventually tested by Lockheed Martin and subsequently adopted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

How did Dr. Farritor get involved with developing surgical robotics?

Dr. Farritor’s research and development work for the rovers captured the attention of the United States Army during the time of the second Iraq War. Their idea was to develop several types of surgical robots – conceptually similar to rovers – that could “drive” inside a patient—often in foreign environments dislocated from field hospitals—to provide surgical assistance.

“Like driving on Mars, it’s a very challenging environment to drive around inside the human body,” says Dr. Farritor. From the early 2000’s until present, Dr. Farritor and his colleagues have developed more than 40 iterations of surgical robots, continually testing and improving their clinical relevance, the quality of the robots’ video feedback during laparoscopic surgery, and their functional benefits.

What are some potential design advantages of the MIRA Platform?

Today, the decades of research and testing have culminated into the development of the MIRA Platform. MIRA is designed to enable minimally invasive surgery without the need for a dedicated space or infrastructure that is typically required for “mainframe” systems. 

Dr. Farritor and the MIRA development team work to identify and solve practical problems that are commonly found within a surgical environment. MIRA provides an abundance of beneficial advantages including a single-cable design, which was also inspired by the development of the Mars Exploration Rover. Additionally, MIRA does not require robot draping and has implemented technology to provide exceptionally low latency in video feedback to a performing surgeon.