A robotic arm is a mechanical arm that can be programmed to perform tasks similar to that of a human arm.
One of the recent advancements in robotic arm technology is the battery-powered, upper-body robotic arm, known as the Titan Arm, developed by students at the University of Pennsylvania. This award-winning prototype enables the user to lift weight of up to 18kg and is designed to minimize back injuries caused by weight lifting.
The Titan Arm Robot - Features
The Titan Arm is an upper body exoskeleton that weighs around 9 kg, and it can be worn as a backpack. It consists of an on-board battery and a tiny motor which transmits power to the arm through metal cables. The cables are also used to control a robotic elbow joint. The arm is connected to a rigid back support that is attached to the user to maintain the correct posture.
The arm is further incorporated with a passive shoulder support that mimics natural human movements, and a non-localized actuator system which along with the motor transmits force to the joint via cables to create motion. The built-in sensors track the movements of the arm and transmit data back to the physicians for remote diagnosis.
James Dyson Award winner for 2013 - the Titan Arm. Video Courtesy of James Dyson Foundation.
Benefits of Titan Arm Robots
Given below are the key benefits of the Titan Arm Robot:
- Non-invasive technology
- Enables rebuilding of injured muscles
- Wireless mechanism
- Highly versatile, with adjustable straps and frames to suit anyone
- Light in weight
- Prolonged battery life.
Applications of Titan Arm Robots
The Titan Arm Robot is well-suited for occupational lifters such as warehouse workers where the risks of back injury and arm injuries is heightened due to repetitive tasks including lifting heavy items. The arm prevents poor lifting posture of the user by improving the arm strength of the user by 18kg.
Other potential applications of the Titan Arm Robot include healthcare applications such as mobility assistance and physical therapy with emerging applications including assistance with neurorehabilitation. The arm aids people suffering from disabilities and permanent injuries. This device also tracks patient movements and provides feedback to doctors.
Although commercial interest in wearable robotic systems is rapidly increasing, making them affordable will be critical for their widespread applications. In this aspect, the Titan Arm Robot is undoubtedly an intelligent design that employs novel, rapid and inexpensive manufacturing methods.
The inventors hope that the prototype which is currently operated by a joystick will be developed using electromyography technology in the future. With this technology, the robotic arm will automatically collect the electrical signals generated in the muscles thereby allowing the users to operate the arm more conveniently.
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