Segway Maker’s Amazing Lifelike “Luke” Prosthetic Arm Funded By DARPA, Gets FDA Approval

Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, lead a DEKA Research and Development team that built an amazing prosthetic arm that they affectionately call “Luke” (after the handless hero of Star Wars), and that arm has now been approved for sale in the U.S. by the FDA.

What makes the Luke DEKA Arm System so compelling is that it uses electrodes attached to a user’s muscles--be they shoulder, arm, leg, or whatever muscles a given patient can use--to control a five-fingered robotic hand that has movement in all five digits as well as the wrist.

DEKA prosthetic arm
Source: DARPA

According to Bloomberg, it can perform six grip patterns and detect up to ten movements from the user’s brain. Users can perform a variety of tasks, including using chopsticks, picking up and eating a grape without popping it, and more.

DARPA put $40 million into the project in an effort to do right by military veterans who’ve lost limbs. “Think about our military personnel, who can be great beneficiaries of these devices: before DARPA made an investment in this area the best we could give back to them was metal hooks,” Justin Sanchez, a DARPA program manager in the Biological Technologies office, told Bloomberg.

DEKA prosthetic arm
Source: DEKA

DEKA needs a manufacturing partner to get the Luke into mass production. Someone should really get on that pronto.