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Robotics Science

DARPA's Artificial Arm Comes With VR Training 71

An anonymous reader writes "The first prototype of an artificial limb commissioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency can reportedly be controlled naturally, provide sensory feedback and allows for eight degrees of freedom — way beyond the current state of the art for prosthetic limbs. Oh yeah, it also has its own VR environment to learn how to use it."
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DARPA's Artificial Arm Comes With VR Training

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  • by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:12AM (#18896017) Journal
    cost me a leg?

    *wonk wonk wonk*
    *eyes rolling all around the world* :)
    • by Xiph ( 723935 )
      Well, it's nice to see that a proper human-computer interface is finally at a stage where it becomes usable.

      People will definately get started on the whole "How cool would it be if you did ".
      And the right minded rational pragmatic people will say no we're not gonna do that.

      My prediction is that it's the first people who will be right,
      once we can properly hook up and control something with our nervous system (instead of by muscle control),
      It is simply more economical to use this for various tasks where a hum
  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:15AM (#18896031)
    There are probably a few geeks out there considering amputating their own arm so they getting one of these prosthetics to play with.
  • ...I think I saw this, though, on the ESB.
  • Is it possible (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:25AM (#18896125)
    Call me cynical, but it is possible that companies making *very* expensive, prosthetic limbs for the Defense Department that happens to have many, MANY soldiers coming back missing limbs, that the companies involved with making these things could be considered one of the defense contractors that are pretty happy about the current war-happy administration?

    That would be disturbing.
    • Why yes they are (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pizzach ( 1011925 ) <pizzach.gmail@com> on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:44AM (#18896249) Homepage
      I have an artificial leg for the last 11 years. (It was amputated when I was 12 because of bone cancer.) Talking to the doctor when He was fitting me for my newest model, I learned that development is speeding up again because of more income. Insurance companies are afraid to say "no" to more technically sophisticated (read expensive) artificial limbs with all of the returning soldiers. Insurance companies either get overly stingy or give too much. It's during periods like this that I should get a new model made.

      I am happy with my handy dandy new cleg. [ottobockus.com] I just wish I didn't get the feeling that I have to out think the CPU sometimes. It's taken about 8 months to not walk like a total retard, but I still haven't gotten to the point where people don't look at me funny. On the bright side, I can do roller blading and ice skating with this knee. That is a great way to pick up chicks along with my sexy leopard print socket.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by svunt ( 916464 )

        Talking to the doctor when He was fitting me for my newest model
        Damn, your doctor must be good to deserve a capitalised He :)
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Damn, your doctor must be good to deserve a capitalised He :)

          Jesus is his co-pilot, and God is his doctor.
      • On the bright side, I can do roller blading and ice skating with this knee.

        That's really impressive. Can you describe how it's controlled? The manufacturer's website is a little vague in that regard.
      • by DogDude ( 805747 )
        You should see if you can get a bionic leg that is better than human legs. Something with some kind of super-jumping power, or maybe something made out of solid titanium so you can whack the hell out of people. Oh, and maybe you can get something with the Million-Dollar-Man super sound effects. That would be really cool. You'd have to beat the chicks off with a stick.
        • Actually, I was hoping to get a leg that makes Star Wars light saber sound effects. It would be so dramatic walking.
          • by DogDude ( 805747 )
            Very dramatic. But let me tell ya'... nothing screams "geek" louder than a prosthetic leg that sounds like a light saber. Well, maybe one that sounds like a light saber and runs Linux. :)
    • by xtal ( 49134 )
      No, but it's about time some serious research was put into this. There are likely other implications for this as well.
    • Re:Is it possible (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @07:54AM (#18898463) Homepage Journal
      Of course it's possible. War has always driven technology development in various fields, including medical applications.
    • OH NO!

      The DoD is investing in artificial limbs for wounded soldiers!

      How evil and suspicious!!!!111one
  • Someone's going to hack this thing and put linux on it, probably the OpenWRT or NSLU2-Linux guys.
    • Probably will happen at the same time creates ARM-BSD.

      So, which current OS would YOU prefer your artificial body to run?
    • by WED Fan ( 911325 )

      Someone's going to hack this thing and put linux on it, probably the OpenWRT or NSLU2-Linux guys.

      And then it will require all sorts of special .conf files to configure each action. Lock up when it doesn't like the half written drivers. Refuses to work for returning vets because some military hating geek used GPL3AM (anti-military) for some of his code, and doesn't work in Israel because another driver was written by a Belgian geek with too much political bs on his mind rather than coding. Fails when leavin

  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:37AM (#18896207) Journal
    Will the VR environment help you play doom?

    Will it be programmed to prevent the wearer from going on a shooting rampage?

    If the wearer uses it to masturbate, does they violate any laws?
  • by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) * <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:42AM (#18896233)
    Start a new "arms" race...

    Very sorry, had to say it.
  • by doyoulikeworms ( 1094003 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:49AM (#18896283)
    would be a virtual circle jerk?
  • http://www.neurotechreports.com/pages/darpaprosthe tics.html [neurotechreports.com]

    Another notable investment by DARPA is 18.1 million invested in DEKA, led in part by Dean Kamen. Dean showed a video of their current work at the FIRST Robotics Championship earlier this month. It's pretty neat, but is primarily a mechanical design, with the goal of accurate control in gripping and doing every day things (wipe your nose with the back of your hand, even). The video shown was of a prototype that was remotely controlled (as opposed
  • Nothing New: (Score:2, Informative)

    by horli ( 1082207 )
    http://www.ottobock.com/cps/rde/xchg/SID-3F574DD1- 4F9E32A8/ob_com_en/hs.xsl/384.html [ottobock.com] The biggest *practical* problem is not sensoring or the number of degrees but battery lifetime vs. size and weight. Otto Bock hands are outstanding in energy efficiency and miniaturization. The dominate the market with outstanding technology for over 30 years. (nerve sensors to direct the hand were invented 30 years ago by them; 'MyoBock') They incorporate the world smallest automatic gearbox (patented). http://www.goo [google.at]
    • by progbuc ( 461388 )
      I was one of the main firmware developers on the arm. It actually has two batteries that last several hours under reasonably heavy use and has strength comparable to a real human arm. For anyone interested, the degrees of freedom are shoulder, humeral rotation, elbow, wrist rotation, wrist flexion, unified finger grasp, and thumb position. I'm not sure where they got the "8 degrees of freedom" from. It's actually only 7.
      • by horli ( 1082207 )
        Whats the size and weight of the arm? What's the force on the fingers? Whats the speed of open closing the fingers? Otto Bock's Greifer has 160 N (16 kg) finger-force. That's way more than a human hand can do and necessery for heavy duty working with the arm. (you can even use it as a vice)
  • by NixieBunny ( 859050 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:14AM (#18896419) Homepage
    I'm married to an amputee, and I am not happy with the current administration's use of my tax dollars going to the other side of the world to cause a ruckus. It's nice that the government is finally supporting work in this area. It's one good outcome from this ill-conceived war.
  • Luke Skywalker's replacement right duelling hand. Optional black glove accessory. Lightsaber not included.
  • One that looks like this [wikipedia.org], in silver :)
    • by Geminii ( 954348 )
      It'd be interesting to see a history of devices incorporated into prosthetics by hacker-minded home users. Personally, I'd like the hardware components of a cellphone, a universal remote, a small display screen, and maybe the ability for the arm to lengthen so I could reach behind furniture or pick stuff up off the floor without bending. And maybe a USB slot I could stick a flavor-of-the-month wireless NIC on. Software-wise, the best generalist app would be an ability to drop into a "virtual mode" where a
  • by Circlotron ( 764156 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @03:43AM (#18897291)
    If it has eight degrees of freedom or whatever, it'd be neat if it had a USB port so while you were asleep you could rent it out to do CNC work, have it do your homework, feed the cat, tidy your room etc. Step right up folks. See the human XY plotter. Dang you could carve good statues! Eventually if they become common enough we might see them available on eBay "second hand". Who's that sponsoring the development? The "army"?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    have less wars.

  • Metal Gear is about to become real!
  • I like the use of the hyphenated "demon-strated" in the article...

    "During clinical evaluation of the limb at RIC, Jesse Sullivan, a patient of Dr. Kuiken, demon-strated substantial improvements in functional testing,".

    It conjures up images of some kind of Doom-esque cyber-demon stomping around and firing off rocket grenades from his arm....
    • Here's [physorg.com] a much better article. That blog submitted by the op was cut and pasted rather poorly.

      Innervation is the key to making this stuff work right. If they can hook up enough sensory and motor nerves to these prosthetic limbs, they will come to feel like a part of the body, though the nervous system may need to adjust itself a bit.

      I would expect that the ultimate solution will be a biological limb grown from the patient's own stem cells. Nerve hook-up will still be a major issue, because we don't
  • DEKA (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mazin07 ( 999269 )
    Dean Kamen (who also brought us the Segway) was showing this off in Atlanta. Currently, it's like a remote. One guy wears a sensory "exo-arm" whose movements are copied by the robotic arm. It's kind of laggy and there's no sensory feedback, but allows for some pretty precise and complex movements.

    What they haven't done yet is allow a person who is missing an arm to actually control it. That's the hard part. Dean just did the mechanics of it.
  • If they based the VR on Six Million Dollar Man reruns, the guy will rip his shoulder out.
  • > The first prototype of an artificial limb can be controlled naturally, provide
    > sensory feedback and allows for eight degrees of freedom -- way beyond the current
    > state of the art for prosthetic limbs

    Ooooh! I wonder how it does for repetitive, gentle but firm motions?
  • As more and more money gets funneled through DARPA/DoD for all this stuff, you have to wonder where we'll be in a few years. Will there be more cheap prosthetics for all to use? Will they become cheap enough to become hackable?

    I know what I'd want if I lost my arm - a prosthetic with a USB port. Seriously. Why train yourself to type with the new arm when you could just train yourself to tickle the pins on an I/O port - especially if it has feedback.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost