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Notre Dame engineers developing artificial intelligence for prosthetic limbs

Photo provided by Notre Dame College of Engineering
Photo provided by Notre Dame College of Engineering
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Groundbreaking research and development at Notre Dame might change the way prosthetic limbs are developed. We spoke to a professor today who's helping make this possible.

This is a project that's been in development for about a year and a half now, and it's already in the prototype stage. After that, it will hopefully help those who need it very soon.

"It's really hard to 100% replicate biological function, but we're getting really close," said Patrick Wensing.

Wensing is an aerospace professor at Notre Dame's College of Engineering. He's one of many researchers at the University developing a special kind of artificial limb.

"The overall goal of the research that I do is to blur the line between ability and disability," said Ryan Posh.

Graduate students like Ryan Posh are a part of that development, and the artificial limb is one that's created to do things that normal limbs can't-- like standing on tip-toes or walking up steps with ease.

"The types of devices that we're working on are powered prosthetic limbs that have motors and batteries on board to help provide positive work to help you get up stairs or to just help reduce your energy requirements from walking around," said Wensing.

Other places, like Indiana University and the University of Michigan, are also working on this. But Notre Dame's research is unique.

"In terms of our looking at how to use these muscle firing sensors to put the human more in control of their limbs in a way that isn't taxing-- that's individually ours."

The project is expected to be completed by next year, and once it's ready to go, Wensing has a pretty nice payoff in mind.

"I cant wait to see that day. And I think whatever my reaction is, it will be a tiny fraction of that person we're helping. So I can't wait."
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Wensing was able to show us different types of machines that helped make this a possibility, including a moving robot. Just a small part of the dedicated research going on at Notre Dame.

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