Mechanical or bionic arms may not be as flexible and responsive as the flesh-and-blood limb, but researchers are aiming at creating artificial limbs that allow its user to actually feel an object in his grasp, or do delicate stuff such as picking up a raw egg.
A Japanese robot maker on Tuesday unveiled what it called the world's first prototype of an artificial hand with "air muscles" that can do even delicate work like picking up a raw egg.
Squse, a Kyoto-based robot and factory automation manufacturer, said it has developed a 400-gramme (14 ounce) hand with five human-sized fingers with artificial fibers that can be controlled by air pressure.
During a demonstration, the prototype hand grasped a pen and picked up a raw egg without breaking it.
Air muscles may be key technology for developing new types of artificial hands in the future, said Hiroshi Yokoi, associate professor of precision engineering at the University of Tokyo.
"Compared to motor-driven ones, air muscle hands are extremely light and less noisy," Yokoi said, adding that they may be in practical use in about five years' time.
DARPA hopes to have a mechanical arm whose functionality is on par with a flesh-and-blood limb. A new arm developed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is just as ambitious, allowing its user to actually feel an object in his grasp.
APL expects to complete Proto 2 by the end of the summer. That arm should be stronger, faster and more flexible, and will provide even more sensory feedback, including limb position and temperature. The catch: To accommodate more advanced prosthetics, users will need to become even more bionic, replacing surface electrodes with tiny sensors that will be implanted or injected into the body.
Sources: Breitbart & PopularMechanics
Tags: Artificial | Limbs | Bionic