Published on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 00:00
He talks, walks, breathes, and his heart beats, but do not mistake him for a real human being. He is built because Britain has the technology, they have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Better than any robot created before. Better... stronger... faster.
The bionic man is constructed out of the most advanced human prostheses they have out there in the market — from robotic limbs to artificial organs and a blood-pumping circulatory system.
Roboticists Rich Walker and Matthew Godden of Shadow Robot Co. in England were at the forefront of the assembly of the bionic man created from prosthetic body parts and artificial organs donated by laboratories around the world.
"Our job was to take the delivery of a large collection of body parts — organs, limbs, eyes, heads — and over a frantic six weeks, turn those parts into a bionic man," Walker told LiveScience during an interview. But it's not as simple as connecting everything like Tinkertoys. "You put a prosthetic part on a human who is missing that part," Walker said. "We had no human; we built a human for the prosthetic parts to occupy."
The bionic man cost nearly $1 million to build, and was somewhat modeled physically after Bertolt Meyer, a social psychologist at the University of Zurich, in Switzerland, who wears one of the world's most advanced bionic hands.
The bionic man has the same prosthetic hands as Meyer's – the i-Limb made by Touch Bionics – with wrists that can fully rotate and intricate motors in each finger. While the hand's grasping abilities are amazing, it is still not perfected yet as the bionic man still drops his drinks sometimes.
"He's not the world's best bartender," Walker joked.
The bionic man's ankles and feet are from BiOM in Bedford, Massachusetts which was designed and currently being worn by bioengineer Hugh Herr of MIT's Media Lab, who lost his own legs after getting trapped in a blizzard as a teenager.
To support his prosthetic legs, the bionic man was affixed with a robotic exoskeleton dubbed "Rex," made by REX Bionics in New Zealand which causes an awkward and jerky gait.
To top it all off, the 1 Million Dollar Man also has an almost complete set of artificial organs, including an artificial heart, blood, lungs (and windpipe), pancreas, spleen, kidney and functional circulatory system. One more giant step for the machines to take over the world!