Hello human, do you want to see something really cool? Get ready to be amazed by Dean Kamen’s “Luke Arm”, appropriately named after the prosthetic worn by Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.
Remember the latest shenanigans of the PR2 robot? It took an intern a whole summer to team with the engineers at Willow Garage to develop something as seemingly basic as the ability to grip delicate objects. This is no easy matter, and different teams have been taking different approaches, such as one that incorporates a bean bag in place of the hand. Then there’s the work being done to develop prosthetic limbs for those who’ve lost limbs due to wars, accidents, or diseases. The former is harder to do, since the logic behind the arm relies on artificial intelligence, while with the latter, the marriage of mechanics and the human mind poses its own unique challenges.
Dean Kamen’s “Luke Arm” is one of the attempts at the latter. It’s being currently tested on 19 individuals from the Department of Veteran Affairs. One of these individuals is Jerry Miserandino, a Vietnam veteran who demonstrates the technology in the video below, from a program called the Dean of Invention. Though there’s no doubt that it still needs a lot of work and tweaking, the video is a glimmer of hope for those individuals who had to part with their arms or legs after having them for most of their lives.
It doesn’t end there. There is talk of building prosthetics that can be thought controlled and scientists working hard to make this a reality in the near future. No longer are we in the era where we would get together at the local malt shop, raving about the technology in the latest sci-fi flick. Things that seemed to us far in the future are rapidly becoming a reality. Exciting times to be alive, and human.
Want to see what other robotic arms are doing? Take a peekie at this Giant Robotic Arm which simulates formula 1 driving.