- 1 Teen Creates Incredibly Affordable Robotic Arm
Teen Creates Incredibly Affordable Robotic Arm
Easton LaChapelle Helping Make Prosthetics Affordable
It all began when Easton LaChapelle got bored during summer vacation. Back in 2010, he was 14 years old and eager for a challenge. So, he decided he was going to build a robotic hand. Easton knew nothing about engineering, robotics or electronics, but he was determined to try. He scoured the Internet for related tutorials, videos and read countless message boards, searching for the answers he needed. Several months later, he produced a hand made out of Lego blocks, wires and servos.
The following spring, he entered the Colorado State Science Fair. There, he had a serendipitous meeting with an 8-year-old girl. She was born without a right arm, and so she had to wear a prosthetic. This arm cost her parents $80,000 USD. Easton’s Lego hand won him 3rd place at the fair, but he was already thinking of ways to improve his invention. Inspired by this young girl’s story, he was determined to make a cheaper, more intuitive prosthetic arm.
Once again, Easton started from scratch. His current hand may have won him a prize, but it had several flaws, most notably its inability to grasp anything heavy. So, he took to the Internet again, researching how to make his hand more functional and how to extend it into an arm. He decided that 3D printing small ‘bones’ for the hand would make it stronger and more human-like. He got in touch with MakerBot Industries, who gladly printed them. He refined his design over the months, making use of Thingiverse for open-source hand designs and Solidworks, a 3D modeling program. He experimented with different materials such as fishing wire, electronic motors and dental rubber.
Easton’s hard work and dedication paid off. He placed 2nd at the 2012 Intel International Science Fair with his new design. This recognition was followed by an invitation to the 3rd annual White House Science Fair and a meeting with President Obama. This past summer, Easton worked on his robotic arm with NASA‘s robotics program at the Johnson Space Flight Center.
Easton LaChapelle’s Arduino Robotic Arm costs under $500USD and is powered using a glove connected to a headset that uses brainwaves to control the arm. He is already working on the next generation of this arm, moving closer to his goal to provide low-cost, quality prosthetic robotic arms to those who need them. You can keep up with Easton’s progress on Facebook and Twitter . Below, you can watch Easton present his robotic arm.
LaChapelle Presents His Robotic Arm
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