DARPA Program Reaches for Better Prosthetics

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LeTourneau U project-not DARPA(click for more) A February 2008 Pentagon DefenseLINK story touted the progress of prosthetic limb development, fueled by a combination of combat need and the steadily advancing capabilities inherent in modern electronics and robotics. Army Col. Geoff Ling manages DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics programs. For instance, researchers at Dean Kamen’s DEKA Research and Development Corp. in Manchester, NH (inventors of the Segway, the stair-climbing iBot wheelchair, and those PowerSwim fins that I want), have developed a “strap-and-go-arm” that requires no surgery, just 1-2 hours of training. The process of picking up a pen, key, coffee cup, or power drill obviously differs. Embedded electronics in DEKA’s arm enable the wearer to activate a switch with a foot or chin, to cycle through 5 different gripping actions to match the task at hand. One tester who lost his arm at the shoulder was reportedly able to field strip and reassemble an M-16 rifle using the prosthesis, which comes in 3 models: [1] amputees who have lost a complete arm, [2] amputations above the elbow, and [3] amputations below the elbow. See a picture here. A recent program begins the first large-scale testing of an advanced artificial arm that can pick […]

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