DARPA is at the leading edge of many different research fields and makes some incredible breakthroughs that have a way of becoming common products over the years. One of DARPA’s latest breakthroughs is a prosthetic limb that allows the wearer to feel what they are holding or touching. The ability to feel was added to a mind-controlled robotic prosthetic arm that was first announced back in July.
Adding the ability to feel what the arm is touching came by way of a software update to that prosthetic. The robotic arm is connected by wires that link to the motor cortex allowing the wearer to control the motion of the arm. Pressure sensors in the arm connect back into the sensory cortex allowing the wearer to experience the sensations of touching something.
During testing researchers blindfolded, the person connected to the robot arm and lightly touched the fingers. The user of the arm was able to tell which of the fingers was touched. The sensation controls worked so well that the wearer was able to tell when the researchers tried to trick him by touch two fingers at one time.
The ground breaking prosthetic arm is the result of a research project that has been running the last nine years called Revolutionizing Prosthetics. DARPA hasn’t yet offered up all the details on the research project, we still don’t know just how well the prosthetic can differentiate between textures or surfaces.