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DARPA launched the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program with a radical goal: gain U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for an advanced electromechanical prosthetic upper limb with near-natural control that enhances independence and improves quality of life for amputees. Today, less than eight years after the effort was launched, that dream is a reality; the FDA approved the DEKA Arm System.
The holiday season is bringing high-tech offerings for U.S. war veterans this year in the form of sophisticated bionic arms developed under the direction of DARPA. In a ceremony today at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, Md., Justin Sanchez, Director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, delivered the first two advanced “LUKE” arms from a new production line—shiny evidence that the fast-track DARPA research effort has completed its transition into a commercial enterprise. As part of that transition process, DARPA is collaborating with WRNMMC to make the advanced prostheses available to service members and veterans who are rehabilitating after suffering upper-limb loss.