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i-Limb System Robot Arm Stronger Than Yours

Touch Bionics, the creators of the i-Limb Bionic Hand, have gone one step further and created the i-Limb System, which includes a full bionic arm.

According to the company, the new arm is able to repeatedly lift a weight of 22 pounds above head height indefinitely. Ordinary humans would tire quickly.

The power of this artificial limb puts its creators into an ethical quandary. David Gow, directory of technology for Touch Bionics, puts it this way:

"The i-Limb system is better than a human arm. It is faster and can lift heavier weights than a human arm. It also looks good, has smooth movement, and operates with less noise than existing prosthetic arms. The technology is new and evolving.

"However, we might have to scale the power down to make it suitable for everyone. With something that has a better than human performance, our challenge is ethical.

"A patient would have the potential to hurt themselves or other people with it as it is actually better than a human arm. It could do damage.

"We have got to take safety very seriously. You have to attach it to the patient's body and that could cause da mage if the weight is too heavy. It could snap their ribs. And it could be pretty scary flapping about."

It can get scary when people have robotic arms that are stronger than ordinary organic arms. However, sometimes they come in handy - like when you're fighting robots.


(Will Smith's bionic arm from i-Robot)

In the film I, Robot, Will Smith finds that a full robotic arm comes in handy when perfectionistic robots go on a rampage for the greater good. "Greater good" as determined by robots.

This kind of mechanical advantage might also be useful in beating arcade games that take unfair advantage of merely organic humans - see Arm Spirit Arm-Wrestling Arcade Game Rampage.

Also, don't forget about some of the original bionic arm discussions, which took place in the 1972 novel Cyborg, by Marin Caidin. This novel is the basis for the well-known television series The Six Million Dollar Man.

"When you think to pick up an object, what happened before with your original arm is repeated. The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything... The artificial muscles.. which in this case are silastic and vitallium pulleys, then contract, twist, and tighten...

Your arm should have on the order of ten times the gripping and handling strength you once had...
(Read more about the bionic arm)

Read more about the bionic arm in Scotland joins arms race with superhuman strength; via I-Limb Bionic Hand Gets Upgradable Bionic Arm. Update 09-Jan-08: See also this example of a robot arm in failure mode from Ghost in the Shell. And also the cool iArm video. Thanks, readers! End update.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/8/2008)

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