Exoskeleton arm receives international James Dyson Foundation award

The James Dyson Foundation announced the Titan Arm as the recipient of the 2013 international James Dyson Award. The Titan Arm is the first project from the US to receive this award.

A senior design project from the department of mechanical engineering and applied mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania, the Titan Arm is a one-arm exoskeleton designed to help users lift heavy objects, according to the Foundation’s website. Composed of five structural components, four moveable joints and an adjustable upper arm component, the exoskeleton is strapped on the back and onto the user’s arm. The battery-powered motor is mounted in the backpack area of the device and the elbow joint is driven by a cable system.

Titan augments the user’s arm strength by 40 lbs. to reduce fatigue, and supports the back to prevent poor lifting posture. It can be used for physical therapy and mobility assistance to help stroke and injury victims rebuild muscle and relearn fine motor control, according to the design team.

The team used lean manufacturing principles, including 3-D printing with recyclable plastic, to create the Titan for less than $2,000.

“Existing exoskeletons are bulky, expensive, invasive and tethered,” design team member Elizabeth Beattie, a doctoral candidate, stated. “Our challenge was to build an exoskeletal system that was inexpensive, streamlined and wireless.”

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