By Andy Choi
Student Max Shepherd has come up with a robotic arm that can do some amazing life like things and it is made up entirely of Lego bricks. The fully functional robotic arm is in 1:1 scale and has 12 degrees of freedom.
Shepherd made the robotic arm as part of a project that included accurately mimicking the full range of motion that a normal human arm and hand could do. Having spent many hours on the project he came up with the robotic arm that looks a great deal like the real human hand.
The movements of the hand are controlled by a number of switches and joysticks handled by the human operator. The robotic arm is powered by pneumatics driven by a hand pump. Shepherd did not use the Lego’s NXT robotics system to program in the motions. The level of control that the robotic hand has is phenomenal.
It can grasp things as small as a roll of tape and as large as a water bottle. It can even pour you a drink from a cup to a bowl without dropping any liquid. Although right now the arm cannot lift anything heavier than a couple of pounds, the potential it shows is tremendous.