DARPA’s New Robotic Limb Will Let Amputees Feel Again

We’ve known for a few years now that DARPA-funded prosthetics research is yielding some pretty incredible technology. We’re not talking incredible in the robotic cheetah sense. We’re talking incredible in The Incredibles sense of the term. Specifically, DARPA is literally building superheroic technology that enables amputees to control prosthetic limbs with their minds, and it’s getting pretty darn good.

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In science fiction terminology, you might say DARPA is building cyborgs, bionic men and women who for one unfortunate reason or another have lost a part of their body. Thanks to science—and a research project that’s years in the making—they can now have it back and will soon be able to live completely normal lives.

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Targeted muscle re-innervation has gotten a lot of funding from the RE-NET program because, as the U.K’s Register notes, it eliminates the need for surgery on “the densest and most power-efficient computer on the planet” — the human brain. With improvements in medical technology and an increase in the number of amputees coming home from war, the need for new advances in technology is especially important. DARPA, with this new prosthetic, seems to be on the right track.

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DARPA’s not the only one working on this kind of technology. Robotics departments across the country are scrambling to become the first to make the perfect Luke Skywalker cyborg hand or the best robo-arm. Amputee Zac Vawter managed to climb the 103-floors of the Sears Tower last year using a mind-controlled leg:

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