Bionic Man Has Fully Functional Mechanical Organs

By Breanna Draxler | February 6, 2013 12:45 pm

Here Rex is shown sitting down next to the apparatus he uses to stand. Image courtesy of Science Museum, London

With working organs and a realistic face, the world’s most high-tech humanoid made his debut in London yesterday and will be a one-man show at the city’s London Science Museum starting tomorrow.

The robot goes by Rex (short for robotic exoskeleton) or Million-Dollar Man (because that’s how much it cost to build him). Rex looks somewhat lifelike in that he has prosthetic hands, feet and a face modeled after a real man. That man is Swiss social psychologist Bertolt Meyer, who himself has a prosthetic hand. Such technology is now becoming more widely available to the general public.

But where Rex really breaks new ground is his suite of working organs. The team of roboticists, called Shadow, that created Rex incorporated various individual body parts built in labs all over the globe. He acts as a sort of showcase to demonstrate the human organs that are currently being built in the lab and what they can do.

Here Meyer looks into the eyes modeled after his own. His prosthetic hand is on Rex’s chin. Image courtesy of Science Museum, London.

Rex has a heart that beats with the help of a battery, and eyes that actually kind of see: Rex’s glasses send images to a microchip is his retina, which in turn sends electrical pulses to the brain, forming shapes and patterns. But the roboticists didn’t even try to tackle the complexity of the human brain this time.

Rex’s fist-sized dialysis unit works like a real kidney, and his mock spleen can filter infections from his “blood.” This filtering function could eventually be extremely helpful in a human, but Rex’s mock-circulatory system pumps a synthetic blood that is immune to infection.

Rex’s creators say he is the most complete bionic man to date. Altogether, scientists can now replicate a good portion of the human body’s working parts, and research on much of the rest is already underway. Rex’s roboticists and facial inspiration (Meyer) will appear with the bionic man in a documentary tomorrow on British television.

The technology is impressive, and may one day help people who need new kidneys or infection-resistant blood. But Meyer says these advances also bring up some big questions about the ethics of building people and their parts.

To see the bionic man in action, and learn more about the future of the technology, watch this video, courtesy of The Telegraph.

  • Rodney Bartlett

    This is one means to immortality for everyone who ever lived! All we have to do is 1) make it affordable (by daring to imagine there’s an alternative to money – This website deletes links to websites that tell you how), and 2) realize that the universe is based on the electronic binary digits of 1 and 0 (enabling everyone’s mind to be downloaded into the brain of his or her own Rex or Rexina – this website deletes links to websites that explain). If we use …’s method of travelling into the past, we’ll be able to obtain everyone’s mind and download them. If Rex/Rexina ever needs replacing, we just do another download. And if too many robotic exoskeletons overwhelm Earth’s resources, some of them can choose other planets or time-periods to inhabit (this website deletes links to webpages that explain).

    • GreenGuy78

      While I think this may one day be possible, I think you are underestimating how difficult it is to download a person’s mental states and memories.

    • Shane Crumpton

      You should read Tad William’s “Otherworld” trilogy.

    • Aidan Skillings

      I’m 100% convinced that backwards time-travel is never going to happen. Ever. Forwards time-travel is certainly possible though (not with today’s tech). As for brain downloading? For sure I think it’s possible. But as GreenGuy78 already said, you’re SEVERELY underestimating the difficulty of putting someone’s soul on a disk. Besides, would you have to? You could prolong life significantly just by replacing organs with mechanical replicas. And the brain has recently been found to be VERY plastic (it’s ‘agreeable’, let’s say). What does this mean? Well, it means that the brain, with the right treatment, should be able to live a good long life without its more fragile organ siblings holding it back. You should read up on neuro-plasticity, if it can give stroke victims hope it can certainly give immortality ‘interestees’ something to be happy about. To wrap that up, immortality could be achieved with mechanical organs and a few medical advances to keep the brain up and running. Screw downloading. 😛

  • curious

    only add a positronic brain….

  • Colin Klein

    Wow, that’s the craziest thing I’ve heard since I learned about Dr. Rongxiang Xu and his stem cell treatments.

    It’s also the worst thing for mankind since google glasses.


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