back to article BIONIC MAN makes it to top of Chicago skyscraper

Bionics took a giant step forward on Sunday – or 2,109 steps, to be precise – when Zac Vawter became the first person to climb the 103 stories to the SkyDeck of Chicago's famed Willis Tower using a mind-controlled prosthetic leg. As reported by the Associated Press, the 31-year-old Vawter, who lost his right leg in a …


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  1. Epobirs

    The updated version

    There is a recent comic series, The Bionic Man, (They could get the rights to the name of the TV series but it is Steve Austin and Oscar Goldman) written by Kevin Smith that takes an updated approach to Martin Caiden's 'Cyborg' story. One change is that they remove and replace Austin surviving arm because it makes him unbalanced. There is also a framework running throughout his body to support the bionic limbs and the stresses they cause.

    In one scene a discussion of the project's cost comes up and someone estimates it at $6 million... a day.

  2. Stuart Halliday

    Re: The updated version

    In the original Steve Austin book we're told about the steel reinforced internal framework and his ability to swim underwater for much longer due to the reduced need for oxygen.

    Sadly this never got into the TV series. But nice to know the new series has it. 8)

  3. Epobirs

    Re: The updated version

    Actually, it was mentioned in the original TV movie and follow-ons before they went to series. My siblings and I avidly followed the series early on because so much of the exteriors were shot in or near my childhood home town, Thousand Oaks, CA. For instance, in an early first season episode Steve has to cross a minefield to get to a strange looking bunker in the distance. The 'bunker' was the old Thousand Oaks Civic Center and the minefield was the open patch where the Oaks Mall was built a few years later. (The same building was the home of Proteus IV in the movie 'Demon Seed.')

    Anyway, Rudy Wells mentions in passing early on that Steve's remaining biological parts benefited from not having to to oxegenate the blood for the three replaced limbs and that this meant greater endurance. It was exactly the kind of nerd detail my brothers and I would delight in knowing when others had ignored that bit of dialogue.

  4. Epobirs

    Re: The updated version

    Argh. I meant to write they could NOT get the rights to the original TV series name.

  5. miknik

    To put it in perspective

    $8m would get burnt through by a big automotive manufacturers R&D department in 4 to 6 weeks.

  6. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Re: To put it in perspective

    '$8m would get burnt through by a big automotive manufacturers R&D department in 4 to 6 weeks.'

    It would possibly stretch to a couple of liquid lunches for Silicon Valley patent lawyers.

  7. Mongo

    > has already cost $8m and counting to develop

    Well it's a prototype deep in R&D land, so its cost is largely irrelevant when considering " the price range of average citizens – astronauts or otherwise". You wouldn't you look at Volkswagen's annual report and say "that €6.9 billion is wasted - nobody will pay that for a Golf!"

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



  9. Ken Hagan Gold badge


    THEY aren't. YOU are the one being UNSELECTIVE in what you capitalise.

  10. Studley

    Shame his hands aren't mind-controlled

    They could've pressed the lift button which would've taken him to the observation deck in about 30 seconds.

  11. Sorry, "Sorry that handle is already taken" is already taken.

    Re: Shame his hands aren't mind-controlled

    Actually, he couldn't, as there is (or at least was) a lift operator who's job it is to press the button.

  12. Studley

    Re: Shame his hands aren't mind-controlled

    Problem solved then - all he has to do is think about kicking the lift operator!

  13. Shagbag

    No doubt the climb will be on Channel 4. They always go for these type of things. Perhaps they'll get Lee Majors for the narration. That would be a nice touch.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Joking aside..

    .. this is a major step for prosthetics (sorry). Making them intelligent is hard work, so hat off to the people that made this work. Next step: making them cheap enough to send to countries that still have problems with mines..

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Expected so much more.

    "Man With Bionic Leg uses Bionic Leg as intended"

    That should fix it....

    "Man With Bionic Leg to Climb Chicago Skyscraper" I expected him to be climb the outside wall, like that french guy. Got all excited for nowt.... c*nts!

  16. phuzz Silver badge

    Re: Expected so much more.

    Put it this way, most people with bionic legs would have had massive problems doing this.

    It turns out loosing a leg is a bad thing.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The leg weighs about 10lbs.

    How does that compare to the weight of limb it replaces? I'm not in the habit of detaching important body parts and weighing them so I have no scale to compare this to.

  18. Jared Hunt

    Re: The leg weighs about 10lbs.

    Assuming the info isn't readily available on Google (I can't be arsed to look either) you could simply dunk your leg in a small tank of water and weigh the water that it displaces. The human body has about the same density as water give or take.

  19. Swarthy Silver badge

    Re: The leg weighs about 10lbs.

    Let me help you...

  20. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: The leg weighs about 10lbs.

    That was such a good link I forgot to actually read the answer (7kg, btw, which is slightly more than 10lbs), so I had to click it again.

  21. lawndart


    Couldn't he have just jumped up?

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