Duration: June 2019 - May 2025

Funder: Commission of the European Communities

Research Team: Prof. Farina

Collaborators: Imperial College London (London), Medical University of Vienna (Austria), Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) (Italy)

Current solutions for replacing missing limbs with artificial counterparts are not satisfactory for patients with amputations, as demonstrated by the high rate of prostheses rejection. The main weaknesses in the current technological solutions are related to a poor regain of function, the lack of any sensations from the artificial limbs, and the rigid design of robotic limbs which limit natural interaction with the environment.

Natural BionicS aims to create a fully integrated, symbiotic replacement for missing or damaged parts of the human body with artificial limbs that the user will feel and command as a true part of their body. This is achieved by the breakthrough concept of surgically creating bio-connectors to bidirectionally access the spinal cord circuitries. The bio-connector enables to extract information from spinal motor neurons, unravelling the neural code for movement, and to deliver information into the spinal circuitries by stimulating transplanted biological organs. The deciphered neural code provides the ability to replicate the movement of the missing limb on revolutionary robotic limbs that are designed for soft and natural mechanical interaction with the environment. The encoded stimulation will re-establish sensory input as occurring during natural movement, thereby closing the sensory-motor loop.