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Open AccessArticle

Design and Preliminary Testing of a Continuum Assistive Robotic Manipulator

by Ryan Coulson 1,2,†, Megan Robinson 1,3,†, Max Kirkpatrick 1,4,† and Devin R. Berg 1,*
Engineering & Technology Department, University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, WI 54751, USA
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Lafayette College, Easton, PA 10842, USA
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Robotics 2019, 8(4), 84;
Received: 26 August 2019 / Revised: 16 September 2019 / Accepted: 23 September 2019 / Published: 26 September 2019
Background: The application of continuum manipulators as assistive robots is discussed and tested through the use of Bendy ARM, a simple manually teleoperated tendon driven continuum manipulator prototype. Methods: Two rounds of user testing were performed to evaluate the potential of this arm to aid people living with disabilities in completing activities of daily living. Results: In the first round of user testing, 14 able-bodied subjects successfully completed the prescribed task (pick-and-place) using multiple control schemes after being given a brief introduction and one minute of practice with each scheme. In the second round of user testing, subjects ( n = 3 ) demonstrated between 29.5 and 48.9 percent improvement in completion time across twelve trials of a peg-in-hole task, and between 8.4 and 33.8 percent improvement across six trials of a task involving opening and closing a drawer. Conclusion: Based on these results, it is posited that continuum manipulators merit further consideration as a safer and more cost-effective alternative to existing commercially available assistive robotic manipulators. View Full-Text
Keywords: continuum manipulators; assistive technology; robot design; user testing; assistive robot continuum manipulators; assistive technology; robot design; user testing; assistive robot
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Coulson, R.; Robinson, M.; Kirkpatrick, M.; Berg, D.R. Design and Preliminary Testing of a Continuum Assistive Robotic Manipulator. Robotics 2019, 8, 84.

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  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Doi: 10.17605/OSF.IO/EZFKN
    Description: All project documentation including code, solid models, media, etc.
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