Likely to give patients improved, dexterous control of a prosthetic arm

HDT Engineered Technologies (HDT), a principal subcontractor for the mechanical development of the modular prosthetic limb (MPL), has developed a new anthropromorphic arm technology. It is likely to give patients improved, dexterous control of a prosthetic arm and hand, including a sense of touch.

As part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) revolutionizing prosthetics 2009 (RP2009) project, the MPL overcomes the limitations of conventional mechanical prostheses, which are not capable of tactile feeling, have a limited range of motion and are difficult to control.

Now moving into Phase 3 development, the RP2009 technology will provide patients greater functionality and more intuitive, thought-controlled movement of the artificial limb, said the company.

The company claims that, in conjunction with partners like Kinea Design, Cielo Solutions, and Van Doren Designs, it has developed key components of the modular prosthetic limb (MPL). Those components allow the fingers and opposing thumb to conform to irregularly shaped objects and have tactile (haptic) fingertip sensors enabling patients to sense temperature, textures, pressure and friction.

The limb components are modular and allow the fingers and hand to attach to the highly dexterous arm without additional wiring. The new prosthetic arm technology utilizes up to 20 motorized joints, mimicking human arm movements with greater range of motion than current prosthetic arms, said the company.

Tom Van Doren, vice president of Robotic Systems at HDT Engineered Technologies, said: “HDT Engineered Technologies is proud to be a part of the DARPA and JHU/APL team. Our mission is to promote human welfare through the advancement of robotic systems, and our technological innovations supporting this project are a step forward in meeting that mission.”