What we are doing in our lab right now is I think for the first time truly the first steps towards building cybernetic systems cyborgs You know, we’ve been reading about this in our science fiction for years and it’s finally starting to get there My entire life I never thought that I would be where I am now having had an amputation I have an opportunity to engineer my own body and I had always dreamed about that The implications of making a seamless connection between the body and the robot means that we be end disability My name is Everett Lawson, I’m a research assistant at MIT in the Media Lab. I Don’t know that I would necessarily call myself an inventor But I like to make things and I like to make things that allow me to see and feel and experience things that I would have not otherwise been able to I was born with a congenital Clubfoot and what it really came down to is that the bones were weaker? So even just stepping off of a curb I could break my foot I remember once I was running from a bear on a dirt road and I stepped on a rock and I broke my foot a Few years ago my wife and I found out that we were going to have our son August and I had reconstructive surgery to allow me to run around and chase my son And pick him up after he was born And after having that surgery I didn’t heal my leg was just absolutely deteriorating and The surgeon said well, we think that an amputation is going to be the best outcome for you And I was sitting in my office Dumbstruck and a great mentor of mine Happened to come to my office and saw me sitting there and He literally grabbed me by the arm, and he said that’s it And he took me and he marched me downstairs across the lab down into hue hers lab My name is Hieu her I’m a professor at MIT and I direct a research group called the biomechatronics group We develop wearable robots robots that attach to the body mechanically and neroli We met with Everett that day and Determined that Everett would benefit from receiving the Ewing amputation this experimental surgery which is a truly unique approach to performing an amputation In a traditional amputation and not only are they cutting through the bone but they’re also cutting through all the muscles and tendons as well in the Ewing procedure They preserve as much of that musculature as they can and the relationship of those muscles via their tendons. I Still have the musculature embedded into my limb, which means that I can have a direct neuromuscular interface with bionic limbs and That’s how I started this relationship with the biomechatronics lab My name is Matt Carney, I’m a PhD candidate here in the biomechatronics group and I have been building Bionic knees and ankles Trying to push the limits of what’s actually possible to get as close as possible or even better than biological performance What’s really interesting about everett is that because he’s had this amputation that allows him to have this Neural pathway that a traditional amputation doesn’t necessarily have so that he can have direct control of the robot How it works is that there are sensors that read the signals coming out of the muscles in my leg and It translates them into mechanical motion within the bionic limb so when I fire a muscle that would say point your foot down it directly translates to a motion in the Robotic vehicle, I think as well A range of motion for the dorsal flushing feels really good. It does. Yeah, I Remember the first time that I you know saw of Matt’s robotic engine and he turned on the controls I Wasn’t seeing the mechanics of this robot attached to my body. I was seeing my body being Continued all the way down to a foot that had a 1:1 relationship between the thought of motion and actual motion It was truly profound So you can put it on we’ll try it out we’ll turn it up a little bit I Need a little bit more resistance on heel strike Well, yes Mord Anthony for heel strike. How does it feel? I just made it. That’s way better quite a bit stiffer. Yeah Working with Matt and the team in the position of being a subject it is a really interesting situation for me but I also am an engineer and an inventor and you know, I also work on developing my own systems and Rather than trying to translate my thoughts into motion. I’m looking at how do I get sensory feedback back in? So I received this experimental surgery which preserved a lot of the musculature of my leg as well as portions of the nervous system And I began to realize that There were specific Spots on my leg that have an approximate sensation of the big toe the little toe the heel the middle of my foot And it was at that point that I started Prototyping building things in order to start exploring these sensations Within the last 48 hours. I’ve been able to build an array of sensors. They go on to the bottom of my prosthetic they’d send a signal back on to my residual limb a little bit of electricity across the surface of the skin to get the sensation of touch So I can reach down and I can touch This one and I have the sensation of my little toe. Oh Do you help Papa? Do you want to help me do science? You want to tickle the bottom of Papa’s robot foot pop off the bottom all the way on the bottom I’ll push that one. Oh, I feel then. Can you push other buttons? You’re touching my pinky toe and my big toe And it actually really tickles I Hadn’t thought some of this all the way through. Oh That’s no sir. That’s live wires August is born with bilateral clubbed feet the condition that I had but on both sides you Know the science has changed a lot and they’re able to do treatments to correct it But sitting there as a father You know looking at my son my motivation for building Bionic limbs came from thinking about the world that I want him to grow up in You know, I think it’s 2019 and it’s about time we got robots on people one hope coming out of this lab is that the work we were doing allows us to push the Capabilities of what the human body is even capable of doing so that at some point, you know It’s not just I feel so bad that you lost your limb. Here’s some prosthesis. It’s more like oh I lost my limb cool Look what I can do now I can upgrade that limb as I get older. I can change all of the functionality of it I have so much more capability now that I have this new robotic extension of my body The things that we’re developing now the prototype that I’m wearing today is just the beginning I Don’t think it’s ever going to stop it’s not about building something that does X and I can just move on from there It’s going to be a constant exploration Throughout the course of my life You