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Dec 11, 2013 07:33 AM EST

Pennsylvania Engineering students Create Robotic Arm To Lift Heavy Objects (VIDEO)

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University of Pennsylvania engineering students have developed a 'Titan arm' capable of lifting heavy loads. The team comprising of Nick Parrotta, Elizabeth Beattie, Nick McGill and Niko Vladimirov created  the arm, which enables a user to lift an additional 40 pounds, as a part of their senior capstone project last year.

The light-weight robotic arm weighs just 18 pounds and costs less than $2,000. Majority of its components are made of aluminium.

"Existing exoskeletons are bulky, expensive, invasive, and tethered. Our challenge was to build an exoskeletal system that was inexpensive, streamlined, and wireless," Beattie said in a statement. Composed of five structural members, four moveable joints, and an adjustable upper arm member, the exoskeleton is strapped on to the back and onto the user's arm.

"It uses a braking system to hold a static load. And the motor is mounted in the backpack area of the device. The elbow joint is driven by a cable system."

Parrotta said that the battery-powered arm support attached to a backpack facilitates mobility in traumatic patients, prevents repetitive injuries in people associated with heavy-lifting tasks and enables grandparents to lift their grandchildren in their arms.

"We found out that some people can't even lift a cast-iron pan to cook dinner," McGill said.

"When we started talking to physical therapists and prospective users, or people who have gone through these types of injuries, we just kept on getting more and more motivated," said Parrotta, Review Journal reports.

The cost-efficient design incorporated in the robotic arm has won the team $10,000 Intel Cornell Cup USA and the $65,000 James Dyson Award. The team hopes to now modify the prototype for a market launch as soon as possible.

According to the James Dyson Foundation, currently, around 600,000 workers suffer from back problems caused by extreme pressure and exertion.

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