Programmer and 'Bionic Leg' Ace 103-Story Test

Software engineer using mind-controlled prosthetic limb scales Chicago tower.

Zac Vawter
Credit: Reuters/ John Gress
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.

Zac Vawter
Credit: REUTERS/John Gress
Entering the building

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

Zac Vawter
Credit: REUTERS/John Gress
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.

Zac Vawter
Credit: REUTERS/John Gress
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.

Zac Vawter
Credit: REUTERS/John Gress
On the move

Vawter during his climb.

Zac Vawter
Credit: REUTERS/John Gress
Reaching the top

Onlookers cheer as Lawter completes his 103-story climb.

Zac Vawter
Credit: YouTube.com
Watch how it works

CNN interviews Vawter and scientists behind his bionic leg.

Zac Vawter
Credit: REUTERS/John Gress
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.

Zac Vawter
Credit: REUTERS/John Gress
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."