Medical Robotics

Dean Kamen's Luke Arm Reaches Clinical Trials

Posted 4 Feb 2008 at 19:17 UTC by steve Share This

The two year DARPA funding for Dean Kamen's Luke Arm prosthesis has come to an end. DARPA has the option of giving Kamen's DEKA Research project a second round of funding to pay for clinical trials and FDA approval. An IEEE Spectrum article offers a short history of the project, named after Luke Skywalker's prosthesis. At the start of the program Kamen spent a few weeks studying currently available prosthetic arms and concluded they were still using "Flintstone's technology" unchanged since the Civil War, offering the user little more than 3 degrees of freedom and a hook. The Luke Arm is lighter than an average human arm and has 18 degrees of freedom, almost as many as the 22 in a human arm. The arm's interface is designed to support a variety of control mechanisms and can replicate the subtle movement of the human arm and hand: "The arm has motor control fine enough for test subjects to pluck chocolate-covered coffee beans one by one, pick up a power drill, unlock a door, and shake a hand".

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