If you remember watching Robocop in the late 1980s, then you probably also remember thinking how awesome it would be if we could actually save a person by making them part human and part robot. Well, nearly 30 years later, we’re closer than ever to fitting robotic parts on humans. As you’ll see in the video above from Popular Science, the world’s most precise mind-controlled robotic arm just got an upgrade.

The arm was first used in 2012, when University of Pittsburgh researchers implanted a chip in a 52-year-old quadriplegic Jan Scheuermann’s left motor cortex, allowing her to pick up objects and move them around, as well as eat a chocolate bar. After two weeks, she was able to fully control the arm— this happened over time, as the algorithms that translated neuronal activity into motor movement improved with practice. But the arm still had some tweaking to do; it was only able to move in about seven directions at the time.

Now, in a new study published in the Journal of Neural Engineering, the researchers report that they’ve been able to boost the movability of the arm to 10 directions. By adding four new control signals that better dictated “prosthetic hand shape,” or the ability of the robot hand’s fingers and thumb to move in various way, Scheuermann is able to grasp objects more efficiently. Before these modifications, the fingers mostly moved in unison, adjusting individual grip based on where they landed in relation to the shape of the object.

Aside from helping quadriplegics — Scheuermann is paralyzed from the neck down — these robotic prostheses may one day help veterans who were injured in war (or, the future real-life robocops).

Published by Medicaldaily.com