Robotic prosthetics are at the very forefront of today’s most impressive medical tech innovations. At the same time, they’re far from a new concept. That’s because robotic prosthetics have a history dating back hundreds of years. Even more modern devices have been around for over six decades, primarily pioneered in the early 1960s.
It’s a subject of great interest to entrepreneur, engineer, and philanthropist Kevin Mulleady. With that, the enterprising New York-based businessman is keen to offer a closer look at the topic.
Historical robotic prosthetics
Interestingly, the history of robotic prosthetics predates modern innovations by hundreds of years, Mulleady reports. Among the earliest efforts to engineer robotic prosthetics is credited to French surgeon Ambroise Paré. During the 1500s, military surgeon Paré sought to replace soldiers’ shattered limbs with functional prosthetics.
Accordingly, Paré pioneered mechanical joints using pulleys and other elements from clocks and robotic toys. While some of these elements had histories dating back over a thousand years, the Frenchman was the first to use them to improve existing non-functional prosthetics.
Of course, these historical robotic prosthetics pale in comparison to today’s most cutting-edge solutions, entrepreneur and engineer Mulleady points out. Be that as it may, the core principles behind robotic prosthetics, almost across the board, remain much the same.
As such, there’s no doubt that even examples from 16th century France have at least rudimentary similarities to what’s being pioneered worldwide today.
Early modern robotic prosthetics
What we think of today as robotic prosthetics first came to light in the early 1960s, according to Kevin Mulleady. They did so as a part of early efforts to explore so-called bionics. Here, scientists and engineers sought to intertwine human biology with electronics for the first time.
The results were impressive and remarkably cutting-edge for the time. These included early robotic arms, for example. More often than not, these and other early modern robotic prosthetics were referred to as bionic limbs. Using batteries, sensors, and clever electronic systems, they looked to transform the existing landscape as far as prosthetics were concerned.
Accordingly, these bionic limbs—the precursors to today’s state-of-the-art robotic prosthetics—gave new hope to those who were missing body parts due to trauma, illness, and congenital disabilities.
Innovation along the same lines continued throughout the ’60s and ’70s. In the decades since, pioneering techniques from both medicine and engineering have seen robotic prosthetics progress further and further.
Robotic prosthetics today
Today’s most revolutionary robotic prosthetics are lighter, more lifelike, and more easily controlled than ever. It’s something that’s made possible thanks to a combination of a diverse range of fields of study. According to Mulleady, there’s a crucial intersection between machine learning and so-called epigenetics regarding robot prosthetics in 2022.
Machine learning and epigenetics
Machine learning is central to much of the work occurring within robotic prosthetics today, continuing to promise near-normal function in artificial limbs. Meanwhile, epigenetics concerns the close links between human behavior, the environment, and how the body ultimately functions. It’s something that takes place at a genetic level.
Combined with machine learning in the shape of robotic prosthetics, epigenetics can, Mulleady reveals, safely and reversibly alter how a person’s body reads DNA sequences. This ability is vital for the possibility of restoring senses like touch through artificial limbs.
It’s something that epigenetics now both theoretically and demonstrably facilitates by intertwining human biology with cutting-edge robotics and machine learning at a fundamental level. Here, pioneering bionic technology from the 1960s combines with the very latest in artificial intelligence.
Engineering and biomechatronics
Elsewhere, epigenetics-focused and AI-powered robotic prosthetics also rely on continued innovation from fields ranging from traditional hydraulics to ultra-modern nanotechnology.
Following on from the term bionics, which was first coined over 60 years ago, today’s modern robotic prosthetics are increasingly referred to as biomechatronics. This, Kevin Mulleady explains, relates to the interdisciplinary science behind the latest robotic prosthetic innovations.
As a part of pioneering biomechatronics measures, today’s newest robotic prosthetics now seamlessly integrate revolutionary mechanical elements with biological functions tied to everything from human muscles to the central nervous system.
Meet Kevin Mulleady
Rutgers University graduate Kevin Mulleady is an entrepreneur, qualified engineer, and philanthropist with a long-standing interest in robotic prosthetics. Robotic prosthetics are at the heart of the businessman’s diverse portfolio of professional interests. It’s a portfolio that currently ranges from artificial intelligence to venture capital.
Outside of his business endeavors and passion for robotic prosthetics, Mulleady enjoys numerous hobbies and other interests. These include boxing, race car driving, sailing, skydiving, swimming, and playing pool.