Skip Navigation LinksHome > News & Events > News > News Item

October 2013: Paralyzed Woman's Thoughts Control a DLR Lightweight Robot Arm and Five-Fingered Hand

Friday, October 25, 2013

October 2013: Paralyzed Woman's Thoughts Control a DLR Lightweight Robot Arm and Five-Fingered Hand

A 58-year-old American woman paralyzed by a stroke was once again able to serve herself a drink of coffee, thanks to a state-of-the-art DLR robot arm and hand, which she controlled with neural signals sent directly from her brain. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR) presented these exciting results arising from their collaboration with researchers at Brown University, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and Massachusetts General Hospital. It took just a few moments for the woman to grasp the drinking bottle with the robot hand, bring it up to her mouth, and drink through a straw.

As the trial participant pictures herself moving her own arm, her brain sends the associated signals to a computer via a four-by-four millimeter sensor. This sensor had been implanted by surgeons more than five years prior in the motor area of her cerebral cortex. The computer then decodes the signals, and the DLR bionic arm and five-fingered hand execute these decoded instructions, enabling the woman to drink on her own for the first time in almost 15 years.

Source: Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt