A real-world bionic man has been built. It has a frame of state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs and a functional heart-lung system, complete with artificial blood pumping through a network of pulsating modified-polymer arteries. It has a bionic spleen to clean the blood, and an artificial pancreas to keep his blood sugar on the level. Behind the deep brown irises are a pair of retinal implants, giving him a vista of the crowds of curious humans who meet his gaze.
He even has a degree of artificial intelligence: talk to him, and he’ll listen (through his cochlear implants), before using a speech generator to respond. Although, like us, he sometimes stumbles over his words, memorably describing his idol Eminem as a “well-known crapper”, before quickly correcting himself.
Created by Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP, the TV company behind Touching The Void and Richard Hammond’s Engineering Connections), with the help of robotics experts Shadow Robot Company, the bionic man was conceived as a literal response to the question: how close is bionic technology is to catching up with – and even exceeding – the capabilities of the human body?