An Open Assistive Robotic Arm To Help People Feed Themselves

Despite being otherwise capable, not everyone is able to feed themselves. [Julien]’s robot arm project aims to bring this crucial independence back to those people. Assistive devices in this space do exist, but as always they’re prohibitively expensive and the approval process is a nightmare. The development of the arm started by working closely with people who needed it at a local hospital. We note with approval, quite a few cardboard mock-ups to get the size and shape right before more formal work was done in CAD.

The robot arm only has to support a very light payload so its construction can be quite light. A frame of steel rods or plywood is all that’s required. We like how the motion is transferred from stepper motors to the joints of the arm by generously sized timing belts allowing the weight of the arm to remain towards the base. The team behind the project has gotten it to a point, but they’re hoping it will inspire community involvement as they move forward with it.

It’s worth noting, this is not the first assistive eating aid we’ve covered.

7 thoughts on “An Open Assistive Robotic Arm To Help People Feed Themselves

  1. cool project, thanks for posting
    If I may do a suggestion, perhaps an hot plate (a simple 3D printer hotplate) can be added, this way the meal stays warm for a longer period of time. Also add a switch to disable the hotplate for cold dishes.

  2. Thanks for highlighting the project.
    It has been a long time since we have published and advanced on the technical field but we are moving forward: we have developed partnerships with contributors and users and found financials supports.
    In January 2020, not to do like Simone Giertz in these videos ;-) we’ll welcome a biomedical trainee engineer to study safety and regulatory issues. In April, a mechatronics enginner will come for a 6 months internship to go further in the development of the solution and share it.
    Stay tuned !

    1. “…trainee engineer to study safety and regulatory issues.”

      No. Safety and regulatory engineering has no place for the inexperienced, as it is a very bizarre and unholy mixture of physics, chemistry, law, and social analysis. Other than a places such as UL, there are no companies hiring people as compliance engineers without years of direct experience. And UL and other NRTLs hire people out of college for nothing other than indoctrination and mindless scut work.

      NRTLs and Notified Bodies and TCBs are not your friend – they are there to take your money and offer as little support as legally possible.

      Suggest that you take an seasoned design engineer having some experience with EMC and the basic requirements of IEC60601-x and send him to an IEEE PSES symposium.

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