Picture the scene: one day you wake up in a hospital with no memory of what happened and you discover in horror that your left hand is no longer there. The doctors say you’ve been in a car accident and from that moment on, you are a “trans-radial mono-lateral amputated person.” After a slow and painful recovery from the wound, you start looking for solutions to at least partially restore the daily living functions you have lost as you’ve quickly learned that 99% of what is around us was designed to be operated by hands. There must be a way, you say to yourself, in which robotics and rehabilitation medicine can help you.
The Gazebo team has been hard at work setting up a simulation environment for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program. The goal of the HAPTIX program is to provide amputees with prosthetic limb systems that feel and function like natural limbs, and to develop next-generation sensorimotor interfaces to drive and receive rich sensory content from these limbs. Managed by Dr. Doug Weber, HAPTIX is being run out of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO).
Much has been made of the numerous advances in robotic prosthetics and orthotics (P/O) over recent years, and the question of how to control these devices so that they work in accordance with the intention of the user is a continuing dilemma for roboticists. A new review of the field has just been published.