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In Pictures: Programmer and ‘bionic leg’ ace 103-story test

Software engineer using mind-controlled prosthetic limb scales Chicago tower

  • Lofty achievement Software engineer Zac Vawter, who lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident, yesterday climbed Chicago’s 103-story Willis Tower wearing what researchers are calling a breakthrough neural-controlled “bionic leg.” His climb was the technology’s public debut and part of a charity event called "SkyRise Chicago" hosted by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where Vawter receives treatment. All Photos: REUTERS/John Gress

  • Entering the building Vawter enters the 103-story Willis Tower building prior to beginning his climb.

  • Last-minute check Research scientists Levi Hargrove, left, and Annie Simon, right, look on as Vawter tests the neural-controlled bionic leg before climbing to the top of the 103-story Willis Tower using in Chicago.

  • Close-up look The limb weighs about 10 pounds and includes two motors, which Vawter activates by thinking about the movements necessary to climb the stairs. Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, the $8 million undertaking included researchers from Vanderbilt University, MIT, the University of Rhode Island and the University of New Brunswick.

  • On the move Vawter during his climb.

  • Reaching the top Onlookers cheer as Lawter completes his 103-story climb.

  • Worth a handstand Vawter and his father John Vawter look on as Zac’s friend Michael Jacobson does a head stand after Zac’s remarkable climb.

  • Thumbs way up Vawter celebrates after reaching the top of the 103-story Willis Tower. "Everything went great," said Vawter at the event's end. "The prosthetic leg did its part, and I did my part."

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