Robotics Researchers Build Bionic Man With Functioning Organs
October 12, 2013

Bionic Man Features Functional Heart, Other Realistic Organs

[ Watch the Video: Say Hello To The Bionic Man ]

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Four decades ago, the “bionic man” was just the product of a sci-fi television show writer’s imagination. On Friday, an actual robot, assembled and featuring realistic human body parts, was featured during the New York Comic Con.

Richard Walker, managing director of Shadow Robot Company and the lead roboticist on the project, told the Associated Press (AP) the bionic man is “an attempt to showcase just how far medical science” had come in recent years. It was first built in the UK and is making its US debut this weekend.

The bionic man was constructed using parts from 17 different international manufacturers, assembled together for the first time as part of this project, and has between 60 and 70 percent of the functionality of an actual person. It is 6.5-feet tall and can take steps, sit down, and stand up with the assistance of technology used to aid those who have lost the ability to walk as the result of a spinal injury, explained AP Technology Writer Barbara Ortutay.

Furthermore, according to The Telegraph this humanoid robot possesses a functional heart that is capable of pumping more than two gallons of blood per minute. The bionic man also has other functional organs (including a lung, kidney, pancreas and spleen), artificial blood vessels used to circulate synthetic blood, and a microchip that can receive and interpret images much like the human eye.

“Although the parts used in the robot work, many of them are a long way from being used in humans. The kidney, for example, is only a prototype. And there are some key parts missing: there's no digestive system, liver, or skin. And, of course, no brain,” Ortutay said.

The robot will be the topic of a documentary entitled “The Incredible Bionic Man,” which will air Sunday, October 20 at 9pm on the Smithsonian Channel, she added. The parts used to create the bionic man are valued at one million dollars, though according to the AP, they were actually donated to the development team.

“The bionic man was modeled after Bertolt Meyer, a 36-year-old social psychologist at the University of Zurich who was born without his lower left arm and wears a bionic prosthesis,” Ortutay said. The robot’s face was crafted based on a three-dimensional scan of Meyer’s face, and the model himself said he was uneasy when he laid eyes on the artificial version of himself for the first time.

“We wanted to showcase that the technology can provide aesthetic prostheses for people who have lost parts of their faces, for example, their nose, due to an accident or due to, for example, cancer,” Meyer explained, adding he thought the bionic man “was rather revolting to be honest… It was quite a shock to see a face that closely resembles what I see in the mirror every morning on this kind of dystopian looking machine.”