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Vets Receive Life-Changing Prosthetics

Jul 05, 2017 at 3:39 PM ET

DARPA, the U.S. Department of Defense’s research branch for emerging technologies, has unveiled a game-changing innovation in prosthetics.

Researchers showed off the “Life Under Kinetic Evolution” prosthetic, also known as LUKE, which is the department’s most powerful model to date. The battery-powered LUKE serves as a prosthetic arm that can be placed on the forearm, bicep, or shoulder. Its 10 moveable parts can then be controlled by wireless sensors on the user’s feet or via other controllers.

Part of LUKE’s charm is that it’s user-friendly and extremely lightweight, with its biggest model weighing about 10 pounds. The device even offers grip force feedback to pick up delicate objects without crushing them.

Two veterans are the first recipients of this new generation of robotic arms but LUKE will soon be helping more. The device is currently available through Veteran Affairs or Mobius Bionics. Meanwhile, plans to further improve the model are underway. Researchers at DARPA say the next step will involve sensors that detect nerve signals and translate them into movements.