Bluetooth-Enabled Robot Legs Talk To Each Other

Bluetooth-enabled robotic legs are helping Iraq veterans walk again. When Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Bleill lost both his legs above the knees when a bomb exploded under his Humvee while on patrol in Iraq, physical therapists outfitted him with robotic legs that can talk to each other.


(Bluetooth-enabled robotic legs)

Each leg is equipped with computer chips in each leg, as well as built-in motors, to ease the process of walking long distances. Past versions of the prosthetic legs were provided only to people with one good, working leg. The robot leg would imitate the existing, organic leg.

With Bleill's set, each leg mimics the other, thanks to Bluetooth technology that sends signals over a short distance. When Bleill stands up and leans forward, the legs get the signal to start walking.

After several steps, the legs have worked out a coordinated walking motion that continues until Bleill signals them to stop by apply resistance to forward motion with canes.

And yes, this is the very same Bluetooth technology that you use in your cell phone, or other enabled device.

So how well does it work? Bleill seems pretty impressed.

"We've compared walking several laps in both sets of legs and one, your legs come out burning and tired and these, you know, you sometimes are not even breaking a sweat yet."

There may be a Star Trek: The Next Generation correlation to these legs. In one episode, Worf is paralyzed and one of the options is to use transmitters to help his legs move again.

Earlier than that, fans may recall the bionic legs from Cyborg, the novel from which The Six Million Dollar Man was created:

They had created, lovingly, with infinite attention to detail, a bionics and electronics duplicate of what had been the legs of Steve Austin... ...where revascularization was not possible, they used plastic and cerosium and Dacron and silastic and whatever else was necessary... They were opening nerve endings and preparing bone. They were on the brink of a new world of the human and bionics, of joining living flesh and bone to electronics and steel and vitallium and plastic and tiny, powerful units of nuclear energy... Human and human-made were brought together, connected, spliced, wired, sealed...
(Read more about Steve Austin's bionic legs

This is also an interesting example of robots that cooperate with each other. Story via Double amputee walks again due to Bluetooth; thanks to Eric Nodacker for the tip on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/25/2008)

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