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'Bionic Man' Arrives at Smithsonian

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October 17, 2013

A robot with a human face and synthetic body parts was on display at the National Air and Space Museum.

The 6-foot-tall, 170-pound robot, dubbed the "bionic man" after the start of a 1970s television series, was the product of engineering at the Shadow Robot Co., in London. Lungs, a spleen, a pancreas, and even a circulatory system were among the 28 artificial body parts that scientists loaned for the construction of the robot.

The robot has a face resembling a man's, but the face doesn't move. Other than the face, not much skin covers the artificial body parts. A computer controls the motions, including limited speech.

Introducing the robot was Bertold Meyer, a social psychologist from Switzerland who served as the robot's model. Meyer himself was born with one hand and has an artificial limb.

Shadow Robot began construction in August 2012. The robot made its debut at Comic Con, a popular New York comic book convention, a week before appearing at the Smithsonian. The robot is part of a display that runs through the end of the year.

The term "bionic man" comes from the American TV show "The Six Million Dollar Man, which featured a former astronaut named Steve Austin whose body was rebuilt after he suffered life-threatening injuries in a crash. Among Steve Austin's "bionic" powers were improved eyesight and limb strength.

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