Saturday, April 28, 2007

DARPA Limb Update

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
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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