Medical Robotics

DARPA Limb Update

Posted 27 Apr 2007 at 14:32 UTC by Rog-a-matic Share This

The goal of the DARPA prosthetics program is to create an advanced upper limb replacement with neural control within a decade. Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and other team members are conducting tests of their Proto 1 prosthetic arm with help from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The limb sports eight degrees of freedom and a control system significantly better than existing technology. The limb system includes a virtual environment for patient training, clinical configuration, and the recording of limb movement during testing. More intuitive control and an improved natural sensation of grip and touch is made possible by Targeted Muscle Reinnervation which transfers residual nerves from the lost limb to unused muscle regions such as the chest. A realistic looking covering is made with help from photographs of the patients limb. Demonstrations included removing a credit card from a pocket, stacking cups with grip control based on sensory feedback instead of vision, and walking using the free swing mode. The next version of the limb is expected to have 25 degrees of freedom, increased strength and speed, and as many as 80 sensors to monitor temperature, positioning, and an artificial sense of touch.

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