The Robot Arm That Allows Amputees to Pick Up Grapes and Use Drills

Posted on May 22 2014 - 6:38pm by Julius

A new style of robot arm which can carry out incredibly delicate and complex operations have been approved by the medical authorities in the US.

The Deka Arm uses fingers that act very much like real fingers to help the user do all of the tricky things which most of us take for granted. It is expected that it will help amputees do things like use keys, put on their clothes and serve food.

A Whole New Level of Control


While prosthetic limbs have come a long way in recent years, the Deka Arm promises to give users a whole new level of control in the daily tasks they carry out. In fact, much of the most recent work in this area has been around the introduction of replacement legs. People who have lost their upper limbs often have to make do with models based on old, outdated designs. The split metal hook design, for example, was first introduced over a century ago.

The new model has been tested by US Army veterans, following its development as part of a $100m (£59 million) project called Revolutionising Prosthetics. The work on the new arm itself run at to £24 million and was produced by Darpa.

The Deka Arm has been designed to look as similar to a real arm as possible. Justin Sanchez is a Darpa spokesperson and he said that it was designed in order to give users “near natural upper extremity control”. He went on to confirm that the arm can be used to pick up delicate objects such as grapes, as well as to use hand drills and other tools.

It works by detecting the little muscle twitches that wearers make when they want to move it. It can carry out 10 different types of movements.

image courtesy of Deka Research

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