Then, we looked around the lab and saw the ultrasound machine: Last November, the EPFL improved upon that design with a wireless version that "uses signals recorded from the motor cortex of the brain to trigger coordinated electrical stimulation of nerves in the spine that are responsible for locomotion," David Borton, assistant professor of engineering at Brown University, said in a press statement. While robotic hand fabrication techniques and cutting-edge sensory capabilities are beginning to put these devices on equal footing with their human counterparts, the ability to integrate them into biological systems and seamlessly control them remains in its infancy.
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What's more, Wheeler continued, "the force capability and the force density of human muscle is still outpacing what we can do with electromagnetic actuators, so the size and weight of the hand and the force and torque are limited because we don't have actuators that can match human muscles. For example, the Robonaut 2, which is serving aboard the ISS, is "under-actuated" — that is, it has more joints than it can actively control.