Revolutionizing the Arm/Additional DARPA programs

Photo Speaker Ling DARPA Revolutionizing Proshetics  
COL Geoff Ling, M.D., Ph.D Photo of Speaker Geoff Ling
Sun-Q, LLC
Baltimore, Maryland
Former Acting Deputy Director
Defense Sciences Office
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
Arlington, VA

At DARPA, COL Ling ran the revolutionary arm project, a program to develop a robotic arm to replace the human arm. Their robotic arm matches the human arm in almost all domains from appearance, sensory and motor function, durability, and weight and is directly coupled to the human brain through a brain machine interface.

Bio: Dr. Geoffrey Ling serves as a Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He is an attending neurocritical care physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital and is board certified in both neurology and neurocritical care. He also is CEO of SunQ, LLC, which is a firm specializing in technology development for healthcare. He previously served as the Founding Director of the Biological Technologies Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Assistant Director for Medical Innovation of the Science Division at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Dr. Geoffrey Ling, M.D., Ph.D., was the Acting Deputy Director of the Defense Sciences Office.Dr. Ling came to DARPA from a tenure as professor and Acting Chair of the Department of Neurology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). He received his doctorate in pharmacology from Cornell University's Graduate School of Medical Sciences and his medical degree from Georgetown University. He completed his neurology residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, conducted further studies under a neuropharmacology research fellowship at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and completed a neuro intensive care fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. In addition to his DARPA programs, he serves as an attending neuro critical care physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

He served as a U.S. Army Medical Corps officer for 27 years, including combat tours to Afghanistan (2003) and Iraq (2005) and four visits to theater inspecting treatment of brain injury on behalf of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He retired from the Army in 2012 at the rank of Colonel.

He has published more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles, reviews and book chapters. He is a member of the American Neurological Association, a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, the Neurocritical Care Society and the Society for Neuroscience, A designated in his medical specialty and a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit.

Dr. Ling's research focuses on diagnosing and developing therapeutic responses for brain and spinal cord injury.

Revolutionizing Prosthetics: When DARPA launched the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program in 2006, the state of upper-limb prosthetic technology was far behind lower-limb technology. Advancing upper-limb technology was judged to be a more difficult medical and engineering challenge.

After six years of development, the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program developed two anthropomorphic advanced modular prototype prosthetic arm systems, including sockets, which offer increased range of motion, dexterity and control options.

Thirty-five volunteer amputees participated in a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funded optimization study in VA and DoD medical centers and provided design feedback for the development of the Gen-3 Arm System by DEKA Integrated Solutions Corporation, one of two primary performers on the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program. Based on that testing and subsequent refinement, DEKA submitted a 510(k) premarket notification to the FDA in April 2012 seeking approval to make the Arm System commercially available.

DARPA researchers have also attained promising initial results on achieving brain control of an advanced arm system developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, the second primary performer on Revolutionizing Prosthetics. This work with tetraplegic volunteers has demonstrated the potential to use advanced prostheses to improve the quality of life for victims of paralysis.

The Revolutionizing Prosthetics program is ongoing and aims to continue increasing functionality of the DARPA arm systems so servicemembers with arm loss may one day have the option of choosing to return to duty. Additionally, the dexterous hand capabilities developed under the program have already been applied to small robotic systems used in manipulating unexploded ordnance, thus keeping soldiers out of situations that have led to limb loss.

Intrinsic Hand


Revolutionizing Prosthetics is an ambitious multiyear program—funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—to create a neurally controlled artificial limb that will restore near-natural motor and sensory capability to upper-extremity amputee patients.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is leading an interdisciplinary team consisting of other Johns Hopkins institutions, government agencies, universities, and private firms to implement DARPA's vision of providing the most advanced upper-extremity prosthesis.