Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Think all of us watched Star War before and love it very much. Had you notice what Luke Skywalker and his father Darth Vadar have in common besides their common bloodline? Yes, both of them have a robotic arm. Over the pass years, scientist had done extensive research to realize this robotic arm, hoping that they will be able to produce this robotic arm which is very much similar to native limb and is controlled directly by brain or neural system. Recently, Scientists have had a string of remarkable successes in taking signal from the brain of monkeys and men, and using them to move mechanical arms, which means this dream is about to come true. The article I read is about a current research of Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon’s blue-sky research division, which is to develop “naturally controlled artificial limb that will restore full motor and sensory capability to upper extremity amputee patients. This revolutionary prosthesis will be controlled, feel, look and perform like the native limb.” The main feature of the limb they are developing is that it is wired directly into the peripheral nervous system, instead of the brain-controlled arms being demonstrated today. Under the agency guideline, the arm will need enough fitness to pick up a raisin or to write in longhand; it needs to be sensitive enough for the wearer to handle day-to-day tasks in the dark; and to be strong enough to lift 60 pounds at a time. Breakthrough research in “neural control, sensory input, advanced mechanics and actuators, and prosthesis design and integration” will be needed. Neuroscientists, roboticists, engineers, occupational therapists, and surgeons in the neural, orthopedic, reconstructive subspecialties will have to chip in and work together to realize the dream. Darpa claim that they will get the robo-arm ready -- in four years or less. be continued......................... Reference:

1 comment:

Home said...

U0300510 Chen Yanchang

Personally I love Star Wars and I love the idea that Luke Skywalker got a new arm after it go cut off by Darth Vader. I see this as a inter-disciplinary area that requires expertise in engineering, robotics and medicine. It sounds like a really exciting place to be in. But I wonder if this would also usher in an era of cyborg - humans with robotics-enhanced limbs. Soldiers with limbs replaced to enhance their combat prowess in battle.
Also, I think there are also ethical issues with regards to the use of this technology. It's almost like having a hand transplant since the connections are via actual neurons.