The University of Queensland Robotics Club is working on project to develop open-source prosthetic limbs. The club is creating a functioning prosthetic forearm to advance open-source knowledge around 3D printed prosthetic limbs. The project team used files from a humanoid robot arm and worked on how to get it to interface with the human body using EMG (electromyography). “This is a very basic signal process that responds to connections on the muscles, that essentially opens and closes the hand,” said project manager, Lex Van Cooten.
The club is working with amputees, including Ben Tarbuck, to test the unit who said the only thing available at the moment is cosmetic prosthetic arms. “They just hang like a dead weight and are good for nothing, or you can get a freaky-looking hook,” he said. “Having an arm that’s functional and also accessible financially, would be a move in the right direction.”
According to Van Cooten people seeking prosthetics face a lot of financial challenges. “These can cost $10,000 per component and there is no room for customisation.” He said the aim was to build something useful that will also add value. However, the ultimate goal is to “bring something back to the open-source community and bring forward affordable limbs. So far the 3D printed limb costs around $500 to make.
The club is seeking more members to work on the project. For information visit: http://uqrobotics.com/
Caption: UQ Robotics Club members Fabian Vasuain and Lex Van Cooteen with amputee consultant, Ben Tarbuck (centre).