Researchers from Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada have developed a wearable robotic arm that can be used to help its wearer perform labour intensive tasks without weighing them down too much, according to IEEE Spectrum.
The robotic arm is described as supernumerary, meaning it adds functionality to an already existing system, in this case, the human body.
In order to use the arm, the user simply straps the bottom part of the arm around their waist and hips to anchor it in place. Using a joystick, the arm can then be extended from its anchor to perform a variety of tasks. Its power and control source remain on the ground, meaning the arm itself if relatively light, only weighing around 4kg.
The arm was developed to show the benefits of using a supernumerary device to assist in performing certain tasks. In a video showing the robot arms capabilities, you can see it helping the wearer paint a wall, pick artificial apples off a tree, and handing the user a power tool, proving it has the dexterity to pull off many different tasks.
While the idea is certainly a good one, it does look quite cumbersome to wear and use despite it weighing only 4kg. Take the example of the arm hammering a wall for instance. While it does indeed manage to do some damage, the user does not seem too comfortable with a heavy metal object swinging widely so close to her face.
Once more research and development has been completed, the research team hopes to AI to give the user more control over the arm along with removing the need to use a remote control to direct the arm in the direction you want it to go.
Take a look at the are in action below: