US boffins have been promised funding of up to $10.3m to help develop a bionic arm that would work, feel and look like a real limb.
The grant to the University of Utah is a key part of a US Department of Defense contract worth up to $55m to develop next-generation prosthetic arms for injured soldiers, and potentially for others whose arms have been amputated.
"Imagine an artificial arm that moves naturally in response to your thoughts, that allows you to feel both the outside world and your own movements, and that is as strong and graceful as an intact, biological limb," said bioengineer Greg Clark, the University of Utah's principal investigator on the project.
"That's what our researchers, teaming with others around the world, are setting out to achieve. People's arms and hands are not only tools, but an important means by which they explore the world and interact with others. We hope to restore that capability."
Researchers will focus on developing and testing an implanted "peripheral nerve interface" that would relay impulses from nerves in the residual limb to a small computer worn on a belt and then to the bionic arm.
This would allow a person to move the artificial limb like a real one, according to the researchers.
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