Wearable robotic arm is so powerful it can smash through walls

The arm has been developed to help humans with menial tasks (Universit de Sherbrooke)

A new wearable robotic arm has been developed that’s powerful enough to smash through walls.

The device uses hydraulics and is capable of picking up items weighing up to 5kg.

The waist-mounted device weighs about as much of a human arm and has been shown completing a variety of tasks. It can paint, wash windows and handle tasks. And play badminton, obviously.

The robot was created by researchers at Université de Sherbrooke in Canada and is known as a ‘supernumerary robotic arm,’ which is a wearable robot that provides a human with an additional limb, according to IEEE Spectrum.

It’s controlled through a smaller version of itself that’s operated by a second person nearby.

It can also smash through walls (Universit de Sherbrooke)

Researchers view this robot as being a co-worker when doing tasks, as it increases productivity or is capable of performing other jobs to free up the user to make decisions based on creativity or judgment, such as painting or building.

Catherine Véronneau, lead author of the study, told IEEE in an email: ‘I get used to it quickly, and I can compensate for some of the movements (x, y, and z translational movements), but I still have some remaining issues to compensate for torsion movements (like if the arm is hitting a tennis ball with a racket), which is funny!

‘We also noticed that the harness needs to be rigidly connected to the body, because if there is some backlash between the harness and the body, it can be uncomfortable.’

The arm has three degrees of freedom when it comes to movement but is designed especially so it can’t swing back and accidentally hit its operator in the face.

This would be very handy for DIY (Universit de Sherbrooke)

Véronneau and her team are looking to add sensors to the arm that would allow it to pick vegetables next to the user, as well as complete more collaborative tasks.

‘Making a third arm (or any SRL [supernumerary robotic limb]) autonomous involves understanding the human intent behind actions, which is really dependent on the application,’ she explained.

Catherine Veronneau is working to develop the arm (Universit de Sherbrooke)

‘For instance, if the job of a supernumerary pair of arms is opening a door while the user is holding something, the controller should detect when is the right moment to open the door.

‘So, for one particular application, it’s feasible. But if we want that SRL to be multifunctional, it requires some AI or intelligent controller to detect what the human wants to do, and how the SRL could be complementary to the user (and act as a coworker).

‘So there are a lot of things to explore in that vast field of ‘human intent.’

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