The Mind-Controlled Bionic Arm With a Sense of Touch

October 9, 2019 posted by

so now I’m gonna go turn on the arm can go up okay and back down this is the most complex robotic arm in existence today you can control that using thought from the brain as humans we are tool users and every time we invent a new tool that changes the way we live outside of Baltimore Maryland the Applied Physics Laboratory a branch of Johns Hopkins University is an unlikely incubator for robotics that are pushing the limits of human machine interfaces thanks in part to a DARPA program started in 2005 engineers have developed the modular prosthetic limb a bionic arm that responds to human thought creating a new generation of robotics that can seamlessly integrate with our bodies this technology is still relatively new and the effects that robotic bodies will have on our future are already raising serious social and ethical questions there’s a lot of interest in how this is affecting the way we evolve where’s this all go in the future you know I think we’re just at the beginning it could be tremendous scientists are trying to bridge the gap but it’s the patience that will push the limits of this technology forward we went to Baltimore to meet with Melissa Loomis an apt from Ohio who’s visiting the lab to be outfitted with the bionic limb for the first time thanks to a groundbreaking surgery called sensory reinnervation that remapped her nerves responsible for touch melissa is one of the first amputees in the world to be able to feel through a robotic prosthetic so can you walk us through what took place on a day of your accident it was six o’clock on a Saturday morning on July 25th I got up to let my dogs out heard horrible noise went outside and the dogs had a raccoon cornered on the top of the fence and then they both kind of went in for the kill and I went to grab the dogs off of the raccoon and the raccoon grabbed on to my forearm so I grabbed it and threw it over the fence I had gotten bitten on my forearm and I was just kind of standing there bleeding so I went straight to the hospital I said you’re you’re now gonna be referred to dr. Seth he’s our hand specialist and he said you’ve never seen such a terrible infection it just kept getting worse and worse so I went septic and I said I’m going to take your arm or you’re gonna die this right here is my muscles in tendon and that was the top of my arm 29 days and 13 surgeries later I had my army amputated to get up in the morning get a shower and brush your teeth and get ready for work you know whereas it was a 15-minute process before my accident now it’s a half an hour process I can’t just go home and make dinner by myself without help opening cans or lifting pots buttoning button zipping zippers little things that you never think about I hope to just use my robotic arm just like I use my regular arm and just go about my business as a normal tool arm person just behind me is the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University where we’re meeting the chief engineer dr. mike mclaughlin and his team they’re working on neural prosthetics that are controlled by the mind this is completely revolutionising how human beings interact with machines so this was a program started by DARPA the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the whole purpose was really to move prosthetics to a whole new level the keel this is Robo Sally Robo Sally has two of the prosthetic limbs this arm can do basically everything you can do with your hand the modular prosthetic limb or MPL interprets and converts signals from the body’s nervous system to motion when the MPL interacts with an object signals from over 100 sensors send information back to the brain creating a sense of touch these are very expensive this limb costs hundreds of thousands of dollars but the end of the day we really want to get this out so people can use it in everyday life so what’s unique about melissa is that we’ll be able to actually feed back to her sensory information at a level that we haven’t been able to do before that is really going to move this to your entirely new level so you’ve been quoted saying that melissa is a very special case a very rare you explained yeah we ended up doing a surgery it’s called targeted muscle reinnervation is a type of surgery that allows any amputee to use their brain to operate the Bionic or prosthetic arm if she wants to open her hand she just thinks open my hand now the part that’s never been done here in the US was to try to get someone to feel their prosthetic hand the targeted sensory reinnervation if you have a prosthetic arm you can’t feel you can’t hold somebody’s hand and feel that touch and so what I ended up doing was finding the nerve that gives you feeling and I took that basically attached it to her skin here and here and the idea is that if that nerve gives you feeling here her brain will think that her fingers are actually here because of her surgery the quality of sensory signals melissa receives are better than anything tested before with the Bionic limb we accompanied Melissa as she used the prosthetic limb for the first time ready basically they just put sensors around my arm that could read my muscle patterns and then I would do the movements with my imaginary arm and the machine would recognize the muscle patterns and then the arm would do those motions afterwards bloom may move in a weird way and that’s okay because it’s the first time it’s hearing those muscle patterns will do elbow up and down nice the arm learns how to understand what you want to do as opposed to you learning how to control the arm it’s a very fundamental difference of what we’re trying to do here so the next one one try is the UM the hand close and relaxed so when you first use the modular prosthetic limb how did it feel to control it with your mind you know you control your hand with your mind naturally so to me I feel like I have a hand and I’m just moving it naturally just try the thumb let’s go ahead and try to do a tip grasp very nice I mean these are really fine movements to be able to pick up those individual movements is pretty amazing so this is thumb okay so the thumb is read they put the sensors on where the nerves are re-intubated into the skin if you put little spots where you can feel the fingers tank-like here my thumb tingle each individual finger has its own kind of little spot all right I’m gonna buzz it let me know if it’s uncomfortable or feel it yeah when they vibrated I would just say this is this finger and we just went through all the fingers is there a perception of where the vibration is coming from you can’t localize it does just feel like it’s coming all through the phantom does it ever feel like it’s actually on your upper arm now it’s all con comes a hand yeah it’s huge that it’s coming from your phantom not sort of on your arm ever so is greater yeah right no one’s ever seen this before okay here we go are you ready yep this is it yeah you can feel yeah yeah all right ready close your eyes oh right there yeah all right so see if you can tell when you’ve actually gotten this so just close slowly got it got it got it okay and open that’s awesome Melissa your case is very special cause you’re able to feel so can you walk us through how to felt using the prosthetic limb good cuz I mean I wanted that’s the thing I missed the most it felt like tingling in my fingers when I would grabbed onto the ball it was like vibrate like sometimes I’d be like oh wow that was like a jolt up your finger and you were the first in the country to have this correct it’s just incredible yeah got it good we nailed it we showed that you can feel and you can move a prosthetic and I felt the orange ball wow this is huge I’m gonna be a Bionic Woman okay watching the list interface with the machine to regain capability she thought she lost was incredible but being Bionic raises a new question can a bionic arm outclass a human one people frequently draw comparisons to the Terminator and you know our arm can curl 45 pounds no it’s not gonna pick up a bus while even the most advanced prosthetic is no replacement for a flesh-and-blood limb as the technology progresses we’re likely to progress with it neural prosthetics are still in their infancy and limited mostly to medical use but what happens when these technologies become more advanced smarter stronger will other people want them policymakers have already started to bring up the issue that as humans become more mechanical our laws will have to evolve to reflect how we look at privacy access and domain over our own bodies there’s certainly lots of ethics questions going around about robot eggs you can hack into those devices people shown you can hack into cars and have them do things you don’t want them to do I really believe that in the end you know we’ll be able to deal with those kinds of things the manatee has so much to gain here so yes I think all these technologies will will change us but I don’t think that’s a bad thing you


100 Replies to “The Mind-Controlled Bionic Arm With a Sense of Touch”

  1. Id4n says:

    Yeah uhm, this was 2 years ago.

  2. Catnium says:

    *more expensive than my whole life*
    no it aint you brain washed idiot.

  3. Jacob Burk says:

    One question, if your dreaming will the arm still process movement in that state of sleep.

  4. Angelo Idisi says:

    Y'all never learn! So getting your dogs off a worthless Raccoon was worth the risk of rabies or in the worst case a deadly infection????
    This is what happens when you don't live your life with awareness.

  5. ThatPersonYouDidn'tKnowExisted says:

    I wish I'll still be alive by the time technology can actually give limbs to people who are born without them….

  6. DARKWOLF YT says:

    Holy shit.

  7. Navnit Kumar says:

    When does the arm start to take over the mind? I mean, at some point it's going to realize that it's being controlled by inferior tech, right?

  8. Navnit Kumar says:

    Don't give it a realistic skin, leave it bionic looking, looks cooler.

  9. Moaaz A. says:

    Watching this video I think I just grew a brain cell

  10. Kass Kass says:

    Dude dr. octopus might be a thing In the future

  11. Passive Pixel says:

    Thought the intro was Gravity Falls.

  12. Joe Northstar says:

    Imagine if someone invented an artificial brain.

  13. Airwreck 14 says:

    my grandpa a prosthetic arm and he can grab stuff and do basically anything with it

  14. BluuM says:

    i think i just clenched my everything

  15. Mikkel Sharwar says:

    MIT must be salty asf that John fucking Hopkins has this program

  16. Myrna McDonald says:

    OMG her story impressed me, it´s just shocking the way your life can change in 1 minute or less

  17. JD Rome says:

    I’m sorry for the lady but why be so fucking dumb so step into such a fight… like why would you even think about this?

  18. Kyle Hann says:

    Holy shitballs

  19. _TheGreenTurtle_ says:

    20 years later We can people bring back to life

  20. LMG10_ANIMS says:

    0:56 OHH MY GOSH

  21. 五二一 says:

    God bless that woman felt pity for her experience~

  22. FluffyMuffs says:

    Robot can do anything you can do with your arm 04:00

    My 4 year old nephew: bUt cAn sHe dO tHis?!? does that twisting thing on his fingers*


  23. Hanata's World says:


  24. Josh Yook says:

    A day is coming, when people will obsessively amputate their limbs to replace them with advanced robotic limbs. We will have great psychological, social, political, legal, and ethical issues surrounding such behaviors on our hands.

  25. Fino Diez says:

    You are breathtaking!

  26. Rex Ultra says:

    Terminator: In arnold Voice Skynet will soon take ova humanity wahtch yourselves

  27. Ellisar Gamer says:

    I guess I got lucky or she was unlucky. One day my friend came and got me to show me something cool down in the woods. My friend had took one of his dad's traps and put it in the woods by where we lived. He caught a raccoon. After looking at it for a few minutes just quietly watching us from the cage I very stupidly put my hand through the cage to pet it's backside. It whipped around and bit me and then retreated to the opposite corner of the cage. My hand was bleeding pretty good, I rinsed it off in the creek nearby and my friend tore off part of his shirt to wrap it. I had to sit down for a few minutes because I was light headed and my vision started fading in and out. He let the raccoon go and begged me not to tell anyone, his dad (had he found out) would've beat the shit out of him and probably grounded him for the rest of the summer. So I gave my word I wouldn't, went home, washed it, poured IPA on it and bandaged it. To this day I don't think I've ever mentioned that to my parents, now a couple decades later. Really crazy to think I could've lost an arm or died.

  28. Noobie Noob107 says:

    Everybody gangsta until the price comes out

  29. weird man 2.0 says:

    I dont care if i lose an arm i want that but if it doesnt hurt

  30. weird man 2.0 says:

    Dont let rocket get your arm

  31. Rmdhn says:

    Melissa : *Accidentally cuts finger *
    Melissa : that tingles, also that's expensive

  32. Barnacle Boy says:


  33. dylan kolar says:

    thats so sad

  34. Danny Deko says:

    Hold on guys I got to charge my arm really quick…

  35. Danny Deko says:

    Robotic hands are science fiction, they're only in movies
    Robotic Hands: Let me hold my beer

  36. clint cxz says:

    Boys were close to full dive vr

  37. ed garlick says:

    We already know that the military is using the most advanced technology in robotics, that's a given. So why not use the technology to help amputees, especially veteran amputees?

  38. Mariel Noceja says:

    Just like otto lol

  39. Tom Bal says:

    Now she can track that damn raccon down and punch it to the moon

  40. TJvsGAMING says:

    Damn doctor Otto wants to know your location

  41. Fuzzy Whale Games says:

    >would a bionic arm be more powerful than a human arm
    Holy fuck some people are just stupid. Use your damn brain. Even if you have a mechanical arm your body is still flesh and blood. While the arm might be capable of lifting something like a bus there's no way in hell your natural legs much less your spine be able to handle it.

  42. InfiniteVegetables says:


  43. BAMBO says:

    The goal is to jerk off without ripping your dick off. That's when we'll know we made it.

  44. MR mystery says:

    shit you fucking you this shit for legs arms exosuites FUcking hell like in 50 years a paraplegic might be able to walk

  45. hXcFreethinker says:

    Me: The music sounds like Deus Ex.

    Deus Ex title card pops up

    Me: 0_0

  46. Devid Penis says:

    we are literally living in the future

  47. S4V4G3__Gaming says:

    4:34 It's more expensive than my whole life.

  48. Connor Kay says:

    Normal people: "It's great that people are able to think up these things for amputees"
    Me: "bruh this puts anakin and luke to shame"

  49. Decqowlan says:

    Holy crap this is from 2016!

  50. Sawyer McKay says:

    Deus Ex? i'm confused is this real or not

  51. Eddie Dalisay says:

    Why would I consider becoming an amputee just to experience being a cyborg? Why not have four arms for some upgrade?

  52. Benjamin Marston says:

    How much money are are the arms?

  53. Peter Schneider says:

    0:59 didn't Know Walther White lost his left arm….

  54. YaZzi says:

    she got bitten by a racoon. 3:10 wears a racoon shirt. :/

  55. Drogirani Nacho says:

    Bionic arm should not be mind controled couse there is a thing called

  56. Gabe the Babe says:

    0:56 got em

  57. Danny Walsh says:

    Someone’s gonna hack ur arm and be like

    Stop hitting yourself.

    Like people do when they grab ur arm and punch you with it

  58. clouded coot says:

    cyberpunk 2077

  59. KriSmercS says:

    its makes me feel like i want a bionic arm but how i suppos to play fortnite with bionic arm?😂😂😂

  60. Silent Spectre says:

    I want my doc ock arms

  61. Silent Spectre says:

    Now crack an egg. Pretty amazing though

  62. Kelly Larson says:

    Will this work for someone who is born without an arm?

  63. Krissy's Spice 4 life & M.O.L Skin Deco says:

    Good or bad.. it's happening. So make sure the human gets full control, access, & rights. Not the innovators!!!

  64. ZombieWars says:

    It’s all fun and cool until you get an adware virus on your prosthetic arm

  65. Haley Iverson says:

    this makes me wanna cut off my arm

  66. R.G.A. Club says:

    You're move, creep

  67. R.G.A. Club says:

    Its sad cause she cant dab

  68. Butt Nugget says:

    She looks like Elon musk at 2:23

  69. Kendethar Zendeth says:

    What's the music at 4:53 and 8:46 ?

  70. vix smoke says:

    Wait so if we have ranged nervous transmission couldn’t some i don’t know pull a Bond villain and have a mounted gun that they can fire without a moment of warning

  71. Derrick Reimer says:

    cyberpunk 2020

  72. Robert Schan says:

    I hope they find a way to increase lifespan or have a way to transfer our brain or memories because I wanna live forever wish immortality was a thing

  73. Kick_Ass_ Username says:

    oh god is this deus ex?

  74. Liam Williams says:

    Im from Baltimore at least now if i lose a limb their only couple miles away lol. But in all seriousness this is really amazing imagine how they feel having limb back. I wonder what somthing like this costs

  75. Dark Lord says:

    I’m waiting for the synths

  76. Delta Gear Advanced says:

    Ethical? Dude, if someone lost a limb and we have the tech to replace it with a working mechanical prosthetic that allows them to better continue a normal life on their own what ethical questions need to be asked?

  77. Nerdy Biscuit says:

    We are approaching true virtual sex…

  78. CalebTheCashew says:

    does this mean some people can have super strength?

  79. Coada Catalin says:

    Me in 2050:
    He's more machine now than man. Twisted and evil.

  80. bernardo pessamilio says:

    0:57 gotem

  81. Lapiscake12 says:

    this video was cool but i couldn't focus cause my dumbass neighbors are screaming at eachother

  82. Tony42545 says:

    skynet btw

  83. V says:

    How much till we get a Samuel Haiden arm tipe

  84. The Outsider says:

    We're just one step closer to Cyberpunk.

  85. Shane Stern says:

    It's like spider man ps4, or robo cop

  86. NYC Top corals says:

    make 6 arms and hands attach to humans to gain extra mobility

  87. Myhand Hurts says:

    First thing people are gonna do is bionically flip someone off.

  88. Thomas Remes says:

    This is some doc oct stuff

  89. Lance _0923 says:

    This is amazing to say in the least

  90. Sinzarh says:

    I would just want to jerk off still.

  91. Lilbeam •_• says:

    Can I jack off with it?

  92. Güzel Sözler says:

    We all take granted what we have, until we loose them.
    ''And if you should count the favors of Allah, you could not enumerate them. 
    Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.'' 16:  18

  93. Gene Ross says:

    How could people dislike such an incredible innovation??

  94. HXLY_WR4TH says:

    Black Ops 3, Ember? Anyone??

  95. ffgew22 says:

    awesome tech, will be a looooonnng time until we are at the level of Deus Ex. Just articulating with the speed and simultaneous dimensions of movement of regular arms will be a major problem to overcome.

  96. GuitarUniverse2013 says:

    9:05 She's very brave.

  97. Amstaad FTW says:


  98. Shorrtty says:

    Now if my dog corners a wild animal I'm not getting in the way

  99. Marius Bartolo says:

    why do i see genos' arm.. looks like that arm would break alot

  100. ClassicalPrecizion says:

    Okay,so she got her arm amputated cause of a racoon,and she goes to gym with a racoon shirt?
    Got It.

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