Survival of the fittest has served humans and our ancestors well for millions of years. We have developed sophisticated defense mechanisms, like highly specialized senses and immune systems that can thwart many of our greatest threats. And for the things our immune systems can’t defeat, we have developed advanced medical techniques to combat infection and disease.
Of course, we’re not the only creatures capable of adapting. Like all other living organisms, bacteria are constantly evolving. And because they multiply quickly and in large numbers, their rate of change dwarfs our own.
There are nearly two million people who are missing one or more limbs in the United States alone. Around the world, a number of research groups are working to advance robotic prostheses to restore a sense of normality to the lives of amputees.
Michael Goldfarb, a Vanderbilt University mechanical engineering professor, is at the cutting edge of these advancements. His lab is making robotic limbs more human.
This short film from GE’s Focus Forward profiles the work of Miguel Nicolelis, a Duke University neurobiology professor and director of the Walk Again Project. The project is an international consortium of researchers who are developing technology at the cutting edge of robotics in hopes of one day rendering wheelchairs obsolete.