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Robotic Arms

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Barrett Technologies is working with the U.S. National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to develop a Whole Arm Manipulator (WAM) and a computerized robotic control device that looks like a hockey puck. The WAM arms use about the same amount of power as a light bulb and could be useful in factories. The puck-sized control device enables the robotic arms and hands to be used in a variety of ways, says Barrett robotics engineer Brian Zenowich.

"When you are in contact with the robot, you can actually feel objects in [three-dimensional] space: the robot will create that virtual environment for you in a physical sense," Zenowich says.

The technology's virtual object sensing capability can be programmed into the robot and be used in physical therapy practices. The technology also could be useful to the military.

"The robot can go in remotely under human control and can disarm the explosive device," Zenowich says. SBIR's Muralidharan Nair says that NSF's "investments in robotics technology have typically been made in the areas of human-assistive technologies, healthcare robotics, education, robotics in manufacturing, and emergency response."

From National Science Foundation
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