The Program

Begun in 2006, DARPA's Revolutionizing Prosthetics program set out to expand prosthetic arm options for today's wounded warriors. The program funded two teams to create advanced anthropomorphic mechanical arms and control systems: DEKA Research and Development Corporation to get an arm control system to market quickly, and the other—with APL as the system integrator and lead—to produce a fully neurally integrated upper-extremity prosthesis with appropriate documentation for clinical trials, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals, and manufacturing transition. APL is creating a modular architecture and extensible platform that provides a framework for future developments by us or others.

A prosthesis requires the following characteristics in order to reflect the properties of a biological limb:

With this new prosthetic, an upper-extremity amputee would be able to feel and manipulate objects just like a person with a native hand.

Major Events

January 2006 Phase 1 Kickoff meeting for APL Revolutionizing Prosthetics team.
January 2007 Prototype 1 (Proto 1), with 8 degrees of freedom, began preclinical evaluations using surface myoelectric control. The Virtual Integration Environment (VIE) was used for clinician interface and patient training.
August 2007 Two versions of Proto 2 were completed with 22 degrees of freedom. The extrinsically actuated hand employed a cobot in the forearm driving the hand, wrist, and radial rotator. The intrinsically actuated hand was motor driven.
April 2008 Phase 2 Kickoff meeting for APL Revolutionizing Prosthetics team.
December 2009 Version 1 of the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL v1.0) was completed with 17 degrees of freedom.
September 2010 Phase 3 Kickoff meeting for APL Revolutionizing Prosthetics team.
December 2010 MPL v2.0 is completed.
September 2011 The MPL is controlled by a patient using ECoG during a UPMC and University of Pittsburgh experiment.