Bionic arm being developed

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Bionic arm being developed

Where is Steve Austin when you need him? In reality making bionic body parts pushes the limits of todays technology. Something we see so often in movies is still at the edge of scientists abilities.

Kuniholm and his fellow engineers at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, or APL, are at work on the most ambitious prosthetics project in history.

They seek the field's holy grail -- to build an artificial human arm that acts, looks and feels to its user like his native arm, and to do it with astonishing speed by the end of 2009.

To get there from here, they'll have to achieve major breakthroughs in neurological control systems and robotics. But they have a more immediate task, which is to assemble the next prototype, called Proto 2, in time for Kuniholm to show it off this week at the 25th Darpa Systems and Technology Symposium in Anaheim, California.

Darpa has called on engineers at 28 companies and research institutions in six countries to help.

It all comes together in this workshop, where the APL engineers seek to integrate pattern-recognition software, custom-built computer chips, electric motors and other actuation systems into a seamless whole that a user can don in the morning and use to accomplish daily tasks like tying his shoes, typing, throwing a ball, even playing a piano, with hardly a thought.

Darpa program managers launched Revolutionizing Prosthetics 2009 two years ago to help soldiers like Kuniholm who were returning from combat in Iraq or Afghanistan missing all or part of an arm.

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By netchicken: posted on 8-8-2007

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