Few of us are aware of the complex interactions between neural, mechanical, and sensory systems required to perform a task as simple as picking up a ball. To create a prosthetic arm capable of natural movement, it is necessary to mimic these sophisticated systems, as well as the intricate interactions between them, using cutting-edge actuators, sensors, microprocessors, and embedded control software. That was the challenge we faced when we embarked on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Revolutionizing Prosthetics program.
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is leading a worldwide team including government agencies, universities, and private companies whose mission is to develop a prosthetic arm that far exceeds any prosthetic available today. The final version of the arm will have control algorithms driven by neural inputs that enable the wearer to move with the speed, dexterity, and force of a real arm. Advanced sensory feedback technologies will enable the perception of physical inputs, such as pressure, force, and temperature.
By James Burck, Michael J. Zeher, Robert Armiger, and James D. Beaty, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
This article was published in The MathWorks News & Notes, 2009