I may be disclosing my age here, but does anyone remember the series The Six-Million Dollar Man? If not, here is a refresher for you (or a bit of information to fill you in on what you missed): NASA Astronaut Steve Austin (who was wonderfully portrayed by Lee Majors), was severely injured during a crash. He was ‘rebuilt’ in an operation costing a whopping $6 million (hence the name of the series). All in all, Austin received bionic legs, a left eye and a right arm.
These bionic implants substantially increased his ability to perform certain tasks: his limbs were as powerful as a bulldozer, his eye had infrared capabilities and a 20:1 zoom lens, he could also run up to 60 mph. He uses all of these enhanced abilities working as a Secret Agent for the Office of Scientific Intelligence. Well, Mr. Austin, there is a new Bionic Man in town, and he is a robot named Frank (short for Frankenstein). Yes, I am referring to this robot as a ‘he, him’ because, well, he does have a masculine name after all.
Frankenstein, the Real Bionic Man
Frank is named after the infamous Victor Frankenstein in the 1818 novel written by Mary Shelley, which was made into a movie in 1994. Frank is a 6’ tall robot constructed of artificial body parts that were donated by a variety of companies to assist with his creation.
The Generous Companies That Helped Bring Frank ‘to Life:’
⦁ Tuscan, Arizona’s SynCardia Systems provided Frank’s heart.
⦁ Bedford, Massachusetts’ BiOM provided his ankles and feet.
⦁ England’s Haemair Ltd. Provided Frank’s lung.
⦁ Australia’s Cochlear provided his ears.
⦁ The United Kingdom’s De Montfort University provided a pancreas.
⦁ The University of California in San Francisco provided Frank with a prototype kidney.
Frank was created to resemble the University of Zurich’s psychology professor, Dr. Bertolt Meyer. Dr. Meyer was chosen as the human model for Frank because Dr. Meyer has been using a prosthetic hand since he was three months old.
The Nuts and Bolts – No Pun Intended – Well, Okay, Maybe in This Case It is Appropriate…
Frank was built by a group of engineers from Shadow Robot, which is located in London. The men behind the machine include roboticists Matthew Godden and Richard Walker. Alexander Seifalian, who is a professor of Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine at University College London, created Frank’s organs using a polymer that is specifically designed to build implantable organs.
Frank does not have a brain (yet). Therefore, assistance from a remote control that has Bluetooth capability is necessary to control him. With the remote control, Frank can walk and talk: He has a complete circulatory system, which includes a beating heart. He also has lungs. His circulatory system and lungs are made up of implantable synthetic organs. He has been given 28 of the most advanced artificial body parts that are currently available.
Specifics Related to Frank
⦁ Has 200 processors that are specifically designed to fit Frank. These processors are powered via 26 individual motors and 70 circuit boards.
⦁ Has skin that is made of silicone and contains more than 1 million sensors. These sensors are designed to detect changes in temperature and touch.
⦁ Has a face based on the characteristics of Dr. Meyer’s.
The engineers designed Frank in such a way as to allow several of his ‘human’ parts to continue operating without the need for a body.
The technology that keeps Frank up-and-running is reminiscent of sci-fi movies like:
- I, Robot (2004)
- Bicentennial Man (1999)
- RoboCop (1987, 2014)
- The Terminator (1984), ⦁ Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), ⦁ Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), ⦁ Terminator Salvation (2009)
- AI Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Dr. Bertolt Meyer Meets His Bionic Doppelganger for the First Time – It Was Hardly Love at First Sight
Three months in the making, Dr. Meyer is introduced to his bionic counterpart. As the roboticist motions to the face-shaped piece of pinkish rubber he states, “Isn’t it amazing?” Dr. Meyer remains silent as he examines his doppelganger, he seems unsure as to how he should greet this mechanical replica of himself. As he looks at Bio-Bertolt and stares at the tangled skull wires and its indignant lips, he begins to frown. The roboticists that have now assembled around Bertolt attempt to stifle their giggles. Eventually, Bertolt ends his silence stating, “I think that this creature is revolting and please stop laughing, it’s really awkward.”
According to Dr. Meyer, Frank is not meant to replace a human being, instead, the ultimate goal is to advance technology to the point where it can be used to ‘fix’ a broken person. Researchers are currently working on creating Frank a brain, and Dr. Meyer stated that a female for Frank might be something to consider. Well, with the way things are moving along in that area, Frank may have a female partner (caution, this link contains nudity) sooner than he thinks.
A Final Thought…
Maybe someday we will all have our own ‘Rosie’ to cook, clean and give us the time we need to pursue our dreams, and take up an exciting new hobby: Only time will tell.