Finally, technology began to catch up with the vision of science fiction. This week DARPA announced a new breakthrough that brings a natural sense of touch to these mechanical limbs.
Unfortunately, the weapon proved to be more of a challenge. The legs serve a well-defined function: keep the user upright while moving. This goal is so simple that a limb can usually determine what it needs from the context using just a few sensors. On the contrary, we use weapons for all sorts of things, which makes them much harder to control.
One of the main innovators in this area was DARPA, a DoD affiliate that researches futuristic technologies, develops prosthetics for injured veterans. Here is one of their most recent prototypes that is as strong and almost as agile as a real human cock.
Targeted Energy Recovery works by tearing the nerves that lead the missing limbs and sending them to the muscle tissue of the chest. Then, when the user tries to move the various joints in the hand, tiny pieces of the pectoral muscle flex instead. These curves can be detected and used to control the hand. For users who have a significant amount of remaining arm, it may also be possible to fix the flexion of the remaining muscles without surgery.
Here is PBS’s Miles O’Brien trying out the hand of DARPA using this technique: