When most folks think about high-tech DARPA research projects, lasers and light sabers would probably enter your mind before prosthesis development.
But in fact, the agency has a prosthesis office, developing artificial limbs that can mimic the movement of the real thing and could soon allow the user to feel senses.
DARPA showed off two prosthetic arms at the Pentagon on Wednesday, including one that is being field tested by Fred Downs, a former soldier who lost his left arm in the Vietnam War 46 years ago.
Downs’ arm, which has fingers that allow him to grasp items (pictured above and in the video below), was built by DEKA and is controlled by sensors strapped to his shoes. The FDA last week approved the DEKA Arm to enter the commercial marketplace.
The other arm — called the Modular Prosthetic Limb, which is being developed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab — will soon be outfitted with senors that could allow the user to feel temperature and touch, according to Justin Sanchez, program manager for DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics program.
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