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DARPA Demonstrates Nerve-Controlled Prosthetic Arm

DARPA robotic armThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has demonstrated a robotic prosthetic arm that features technologies which work to support brain control and strapless integration functions.

The Army said Wednesday Johnny Matheny — the research program’s test patient who lost his left arm to cancer — underwent procedures so he could use the remaining muscles and nerves of his left arm to control the prosthetics.

Matheny also went through an osseointegration process, where a metal device was surgically implanted into his bone to remove the need for a fiberglass cup and straps that are commonly used with most prosthetic arms, DARPA added.

Matheny the DARPA Demo Day the battery-operated robotic arm helps him carry up to 45 pounds.

Justin Sanchez, DARPA director of the biological technologies office, said Matheny’s robotic arm is part of the Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program which aims to provide near-natural upper extremity control for amputees in the military service.

Sanchez added DARPA wants to go beyond Matheny’s myoelectric control over the robotic arm and move forward to direct brain control through neural implants.

The planned system will work to facilitate a two-way signal transmission between the brain implants and prosthetic sensors so users can also experience sensation, Sanchez said.

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