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.


 
 

 
Courtesy photograph

AEDC and AFRL collaborate to make advances in hypersonic technology

Air Force photograph by Mike Smith As part of the U.S.-German cooperative program known as Hypersonic International Flight Experimentation, an integrated aerodynamic and aerothermal test and analysis of a hypersonic cruise vehi...
 
 

Minuteman III rocket motor aging surveillance test completed at AEDC

Arnold Engineering Development Complex personnel completed testing of a Minuteman III Stage II motor in the Complex’s J-6 Large Rocket Test Facility for aging surveillance of the 48-year-old defense program. “The Stage II motor is part of the Minuteman III Aging and Surveillance test program to obtain motor performance data that is used to identify...
 
 
navair-triton

MQ-4C Tritons to arrive at Pax River this fall

  MQ-4C Triton test air vehicles at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, Calif., will fly cross-country to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., this fall. The MQ-4C completed a test flight Aug. 19 with updated ...
 

 
global-hawk2

Air Combat Command loans Global Hawk to GVCTF

Air Force photograph by Jennifer Romo The 412th Test Wing’s Global Vigilance Combined Test Force received a Global Hawk Block 40 Aug. 6, on loan from Air Combat Command. Tail number 2035, from Grand Forks AFB, N.D., is jo...
 
 
C130b

C-130 Hercules still going strong at 60

Air Force photograph The C-130H Hercules dons the new eight-blade NP-2000 propellers. The 418th Flight Test Squadron replaced the C-130H Hercules’ four-bladed propellers with the eight-bladed propellers in 2008 in support...
 
 
Army photograph by Sgt. Brandon Hubbard

Romania air base replaces Transit Center Manas

Army photograph by Sgt. Brandon Hubbard Oregon Army National Guard, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers from load onto a C-17 Globemaster III Aug. 13, 2013, bound for Afghanistan from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romani...
 




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>