Friday, October 18, 2013

Researchers unveil world's first walking, talking bionic man; names it Frank

complete with artificial limbs and a beating HEART


*It (or he) also features a functioning circulatory system fitted with a beating heart

*The bionic body is made up of 28 artificial parts from around the world

*Six-foot tall Frank can walk and talk with the help of a remote control

In a scene that wouldn't look out of place in a science fiction blockbuster, researchers have unveiled the world's first walking, talking bionic man complete with circulatory system and a beating heart.

Called Frank, short for Frankenstein, the six-foot robot is made up of artificial body parts donated by various research centres from around the world, has 200 processors and is covered in over a million sensors.

It was designed by Dr Bertolt Meyer from the University of Zurich, built by a team of engineers in London and is currently on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington as part of The Incredible Bionic Man exhibition. Dr Meyer is a social psychologist and has a bionic hand.

Frank, short for Frankenstein (a name which is taken from a Mary Shelley novel in which the main character Victor Frankenstein creates a living 'monster' from human parts), is fitted with 200 processors.

It (or he, if you would) has 70 circuit boards and 26 individual motors. The 'skin' of the robot features more than one million sensors while a functional circulatory system, including a heart, powers it from the inside. Frank's face is made of silicone and is a replica of Dr Meyer's. "The goal is not to replace the human being," Dr. Meyer told a press conference on Thursday.

"The ultimate goal is to provide technology to fix a broken person." Dr. Meyer quipped that "A female bionic companion would be great for Frank. Unfortunately, I'm missing a few other important parts." Meyer is a social psychologist and was the model for Frank because he has a bionic hand himself. A total of 200 processors fitted to Frank are powered through 70 circuit boards and 26 individual motors.

The skin of the robot features over one million sensors that can detect touch and changes in temperature. The London engineers built Frank using 28 of 'the most advanced artificial body parts available today from laboratories and research centres around the world' as well as implantable synthetic organs.

Frank's face was then made of silicone and is a replica of Dr Meyer's. Engineers designed the Bionic Man to enable several of its 'human' parts to operate without a body. For example, although the robot is fitted with limbs, it doesn't have a brain to make them work. Instead it is controlled remotely through a computer connected by Bluetooth.

Frank is capable of walking and can talk and answer questions with the help of this human controller, via a laptop. Frank's heart and other organs in the circulatory system were built by Alex Seifalian, a professor of Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine at University College London, using a specially-designed polymer that builds implantable organs of any shape.

Other artificial body parts featured in the Bionic Man include a heart from SynCardia Systems in Tucson, Arizona, ankles and feet from BiOM in Bedford, Massachusetts; a lung from Haemair Ltd. in England; ears from Cochlear in Australia; a pancreas from De Montfort University in the UK; and a prototype kidney from the University of California, San Francisco
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