Expert robotics researchers at the Université de Sherbrooke in Canada have invented a third remote-controlled hydraulic arm.
The third robotic arm is mounted at the waist with a special belt. It is able to help the wearer in delicate tasks, but is equipped with enough strength to break through a wall.
It looks like one of those arms sticking out of the back of that Spiderman enemy that I don't remember now. Edit: I have it. Doctor Octopus.
The robots are like this: ask for a hand, they give you your whole arm
The goal of the new offshoot, I read from the study, is to “Mimicking the performance of a human arm in a multitude of industrial and domestic applications”. It is known as supernumerary robotic arm (supernumbered robotic arm?).
How the third robotic arm works
The third robotic arm is hydraulic and operated by magnetorheological clutches and hydrostatic transmissions. It is specially designed to deliver a lot of power while minimizing the amount of mass the user has to wear.
It does this by connecting to the user via a cable. It weighs almost like a real human arm (around 4 kilograms) but can lift up to 5.
For the moment, it is not absolutely autonomous. It still needs to be controlled through a second human, who guides the arm with a miniature handheld application.
Right now it works as a collaborator: performing the same user activity in parallel or doing something different in order to free the user to do things that require more creativity.
What can the third robotic arm do?
The possible applications of such a joint are many, but at this stage it is much more important to ensure mechanical stability.
Later the mechanism could simply "observe" the movement of the two human arms and apply the gesture to different scenarios. If you are harvesting fruit, for example, it is one thing to imitate a gesture, another thing is to collect a fruit in turn that is not exactly parallel to that collected by the human arm.
In any case, as mentioned, the main author of the study Catherine Veronnéau currently has different things to think about.
“For now it's still not that bad to have this arm on my hips, as it's only 4,2kg (without payload) and is close to my center of mass (to reduce inertia). I get used to it quickly and can compensate for some movements (translational movements x, y and z), but I still have some problems with twisting movements (like when the arm hits a tennis ball with a racket). We also noticed that the harness must be rigidly attached to the body because if there is play between the harness and the body, it can be uncomfortable. "