Robot arm controlled by muscle signals successfully implanted in humans

Robot arm controlled by muscle signals successfully implanted in humans

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Advanced prosthetics: welcome to the future

"We are the Borg. You will be assimilated! ”Anyone who knows Star Trek or similar science fiction stories knows that hybrid humans and machines are a popular topic in this genre. An international research team recently showed that this is also possible in reality. They successfully implanted robotic arms as prostheses to volunteers in a study. The arms are controlled by the bio-signals that come from the muscles of the amputation stumps.

An international research group led by Oskar Aszmann from the Medical University of Vienna brought human-machine interaction to a new level. For the first time in the world, they implanted a robotic arm on a person who can read out the biosignals from the amputation point and convert them into movements. As part of a study, three participants received a fully functional robotic arm to replace their missing limbs. The results were recently presented in the scientific journal "Science Robotics".

Advanced human-machine interaction is no longer fiction

Controlling machines with human bio-signals is no longer a science fiction story. There are already numerous examples of how such communication can succeed. Machines can interpret brain, muscle, or eye activity to control certain processes. For example, the mouse pointer of a computer can be operated with the movements of the eye thanks to the latest technology.

Replace lost limbs with robotic prostheses

International researchers showed how such interactions can be used in the future in three participants in a current study. The three male patients lost one arm as a result of an accident. The research group replaced the missing limbs with robotic arms that can be controlled via the muscle signals from the stumps. The biosignals from the muscles are transmitted wirelessly to the prosthesis, where they are mechanically converted into the desired movement.

Intuitive control through muscle signals

To make this possible, the researchers implanted special sensors in the amputation stump. These sensors read the muscle signals that people usually use to move their arms. The read signals are then transmitted wirelessly to the arm that performs the corresponding movement. In this way, the arm can be controlled intuitively by the user. To ensure the performance of the arm, it can be charged wirelessly using magnetic coils in the prosthesis socket.

Research is not only relevant for prostheses

The research group emphasizes that systems with wireless transmission of bio signals are not only suitable for modern prosthetics. In theory, this technology can be applied to many other sectors of biotechnology. So it is quite conceivable that machines can be controlled in the future with pure thought (or brain waves). (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Medical University of Vienna: Prosthetics: sensors for wireless muscle signal transmission implanted after nerve transfers for the first time (call: 07/18/2019),
  • Salminger, S. / Sturma, A. / Hofer, C. / u .: Long-term implant of intramuscular sensors and nerve transfers for wireless control of robotic arms in above-elbow amputees, Science Robotics, 2019,

Video: HC29-K1: The Direct HumanMachine Interface and Hints of a General Artificial Intelligence (September 2022).


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