It's Possible to 3D-Print an Extra Pair of Robotic Hands

Monday, 11 December 2017 - 8:56PM
Robotics
Monday, 11 December 2017 - 8:56PM
It's Possible to 3D-Print an Extra Pair of Robotic Hands
YouTube/Federico Youbionic
Sometimes it'd be nice to have a couple of extra hands. Whether you're trying to eat a bag of chips while also holding a can of drink, or just trying to play the piano, the idea of having some extra limbs to help with the process sounds pretty fantastic.

Now, as long as you can access a 3D printer, you can add a lot of extra functionality to your life, as you augment your simple, fleshy body with some advanced robotic hands. Created by a company called Youbionic, these extra arms are intended to make life easier for amputees, providing a way for them to enjoy a fully functioning pair of hands even if they only have one working arm themselves.



The design feels like a cross between Doctor Octopus' robotic tentacles and Spider-Man's wrist-mounted webshooter - with a series of finger movements, the robot arms can be triggered to move in particular patterns. Moving different fingers will cause one of the other of these hands to close, form a pinching motion with the index and thumb, or curl up into a fist.

While these may look uncomfortable and unwieldy for those who currently have two working hands of their own, the system that allows the hands to function is fairly ingenious, allowing for a diverse range of movements and robotic hand gestures just from twitching a finger or two.

Beyond providing aid for amputees, there's also a lot of other potential uses for this kind of technology, albeit with some tweaks. It could allow workers who take part in dangerous maintenance to gain some extra reach as part of their jobs, with disposable extra arms that are a lot easier to replace than human bone and tissue. There are also ways that this kind of technology could be put to use everywhere from science labs to the International Space Station.
 


This isn't the only robot arm of its kind - a Japanese company, for example, has created a pair of extra arms that can be used to help someone who needs to juggle a lot of different items, while a motorized power arm has been invented that grants the user increased strength, to enable them to perform acts of brute strength that wouldn't otherwise be possible.
 
It's likely that we're going to see a large increase in the development of this kind of hands-free technology over the next few years as 3D printing and robotics technology becomes more advanced and capable.

That said, considering that automated drones can be equipped with similar grabbing hands, the majority of people might ultimately prefer to have tiny hovering robot assistants instead, rather than needing to carry around bulky equipment to augment their own body.

Perhaps in years to come we'll all be so used to having our pet drones hold our beers while we eat chips, we won't even need to think of how useful it would be to have extra limbs. Heck - why not just have the drone drop the chips into our open mouths?
Science
Technology
Robotics