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I Got My Robot Arm From ‘Star Wars’

May 19, 2014

Dueling with lightsabers can be dangerous…which is why both Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker had to rely on robotic limbs in the Star Wars movies. Those futuristic appendages were pure science-fiction…until now.

DEKA Prosthetic Arm named Luke inspired by Star WarsThe FDA has given approval to the DEKA Arm System—next-level robotic limbs. With a $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, DEKA Research and Development Corp. took direct inspiration for its innovative prosthetics from the robo-hand that Luke uses to topple the Empire in Return of the Jedi.

Designers of the arm (nicknamed “Luke”) hope that it will aid injured military veterans as well as civilians. So far, it’s worked wonders in early trials. The device, which took eight years to develop, has enabled 90% of test subjects to do stuff like pick up eggs, something they couldn¹t easily accomplish with more conventional prosthetics. They were also able to use a drill, operate a zipper ,and even handle a grape without squishing or dropping it.

Here’s how it works: The arm’s movements are controlled by a small computer processor. The person wearing it sends signals to the processor by contracting their muscles. The device’s various switches and sensors can execute ten different specific actions. As of now, it can be worn by people with limb loss at the shoulder joint, and mid or lower arm, but not at the elbow or wrist.

The arm also has the same weight, size, shape, and strength as the average adult arm. Even better though? It looks really cool.

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