Tags: complete | bionic | man | britain

Most Complete Bionic Man Yet, Costing $1M, Unveiled in Britain

Wednesday, 06 Feb 2013 03:24 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Nearly 40 years after "The Six Million Dollar Man" premiered on television, scientists unveiled the world's most complete bionic man in London.

Top robotics scientists in the United Kingdom constructed the 6-foot-2-inch artificial man named "Rex." Rex has artificial organs and limbs that are fully functional, according to the British paper The Independent.

"We were surprised how many of the parts of the body can be replaced," said Rich Walker, managing director of the robotics team "Shadow" that built Rex. "There are some vital organs missing, like the stomach, but 60 to 70 percent of a human has effectively been rebuilt."

Social psychologist Bertolt Meyer, who worked with the experts, unveiled the prototype on Tuesday. Meyer was born without a left hand and uses a prosthetic.

"I have looked for new bionic technologies out of personal interest for a long time and I think that until five or six years ago nothing much was happening," Meyer said. "Suddenly we are at a point where we can build a body that is great and beautiful in its own special way."

The bionic man cost $1 million and has a prosthetic face, hips, knees, feet, and hands, as well as an artificial retina, cochlea (a part of the inner ear), and heart.

Despite the achievement, robotic specialists say that some of the body's internal organs are very hard to replicate.

"The only artificial stomach we have seen is very large and generates electricity, so you couldn’t use it to replace a human stomach, but I am sure there are people in the regenerative medicine community working on that," Walker said.

The robotics team is currently developing a pancreas, set of artificial lungs, and bladder.

One organ the team has yet to attempt to create is the most complex structure known to man: the brain.

“I’d say it’s highly unlikely that, in our lifetimes or in that of our grandchildren, we will see a fully articulate human body with an artificial intelligence," Meyer said.

Some experts, however, are not impressed with Rex and says that scientists have a long way to go.

"We have motors which can lift things but, if you want to mimic the dexterity of a hand, we are not there yet," said Professor Steven Hsiao of the John Hopkins University in Baltimore. "What we are beginning to achieve is building prostheses which look like human body parts, but we are a long way away from making ones which relay sensory information the way the human body does."

Related stories:

Bionic Eye Now a Reality

Bionic Leg: Amputee Zac Vawter Climbs Willis Tower's 103 Stories


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