What is the DEKA Luke Arm?
The Luke Arm is project at DEKA Research and Development. It’s goal is to design the next generation modular prosthetic arm to be worn by individuals with varying degrees of arm amputation or congenital arm problems. Some people may be familiar with DEKA’s founder and CEO, Dean Kamen – creator of the Segway Personal Transporter, and Founder of FIRST (a group to encourage science and technology education). The LUKE Arm (named for Luke Skywalker’s prosthetic device) is funded by DARPA, and is a truely remarkable and inspiring piece of machinery. The video below gives a good idea of how life changing it can be.
What did I Do?
I worked as an intern on the LUKE project’s electrical engineering team with 3 other people. Specifically, I redesigned the circuits responsible for driving the arm’s shoulder, elbow, and humeral motors to be implemented on the third generation of the arm. I had the opportunity to interact with amputees undergoing clinical trials of the arm, so that I could better relate my design work to their needs. Having done extensive prosthetics research and development in the past, getting an opportunity to actually interact with potential future users was particularly inspiring for me.
The Luke Arm in Action: