Defense

January 10, 2014

DARPA’s ‘bionic’ upper limb enhances life for amputees

It’s metal, sleek and precise. It pivots and flexes like a real hand, or at least one from a science-fiction movie.

But with no Hollywood special effects involved, brain research experts at yesterday’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Congressional Tech Showcase here demonstrated an artificial arm and hand that can do everything from picking up cups to playing the piano, powered by the user’s brain.

Mike McLoughlin, chief engineer for research and exploratory development at Johns Hopkins University’s applied physics laboratory, said DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program developed the device over about five years to improve the quality of life for service members who suffered the loss of an upper extremity.

“Five, six years ago [an amputee’s] option was essentially a hook,” McLoughlin said. “We want to give them a much greater level of functionality, because what they really want to do is go back and contribute to society.”

The demo also featured an excerpt from a 60 Minutes episode that aired in 2013 showing Jan, a patient suffering from a neurological condition, with two electrode chips, each about the size of a fingernail, in her brain.

Even simple tasks such as picking up a cup of coffee are the result of a complex series of commands and information “behind the scenes” in the brain, McLoughlin explained. “We’re able to take those complex things and reduce them down to simple thoughts.”

With the help of the arm and hand, Jan moved, interacted and grasped objects in a more natural way, McLoughlin said, adding that the arm also can function with information gleaned from a computer script.

He described the arm’s future and range of potential applications as “exciting” for service members and civilians alike.

“Think about the elderly,” he said. “If somebody has trouble getting around, and we can provide assistance through exoskeleton devices. That has huge impact, not only to the individual in terms of quality of life and being independent, but it also has huge financial implications, possibly saving them hospice care expenses.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Navy photograph

USS Roosevelt marks 200,000 trap

Navy photograph An F/A-18F Super Hornet flown by Capt. Daniel Grieco, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), and Capt. Benjamin Hewlett, deputy commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, complet...
 
 
Navy photograph by PO1 William Larned

USS California returns from maiden deployment

Navy photograph by PO1 William Larned The Virginia-class attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) returns from its maiden deployment to its homeport at Naval Submarine Base New London. Under the command of Cmdr. Shawn Huey, Ca...
 
 
Army photograph

Army proves new watercraft capabilities

Army photograph Marine Corps assets are loaded onto the USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak (T-AK 3005), from an U.S. Army Landing Craft Utility, or LCU, USAV Port Hudson during port operations, at White Beach Naval Base, Jan. 22, 2015. Sold...
 

 
Army photograph by Kashia Simmons

Improved Army system, training to increase vigilance

Army photograph by Kashia Simmons Vigilant Pursuit provides dedicated tactical pursuit vehicle-mounted and dismounted assets that utilize cutting-edge technologies, enabling Signal Intelligence, or SIGINT, and Human Intelligenc...
 
 
Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards

ANG conducts air refueling training with NATO allies in Germany

Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards A NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft approaches a Utah Air National Guard KC-135R Stratotanker for air refueling during a training flight over Germany on Jan. 13, 2015. Nearly 30 airme...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales

Ramstein Airmen train with French air force

Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales Two U.S. Air Force pilots and a French air force navigator discuss the route to the drop zone during a simulated low-level drop Jan. 21, 2015, at Orleans – Bricy Air...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>