Commercial Robotic Arm for Eating Assistance

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Engineering


Department of Mechanical & Biomedical Engineering

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Amy Moll


Millions of individuals with disabilities or special needs struggle to perform the basic task of eating on a daily basis. Advances in robotics opens up new possibilities for design of medical assistive technologies that are significantly less expensive than current options. Existing devices fall short in at least one key area. Most commercially available products are either out of reach financially, such as the iEat, or cannot perform tasks well enough to be useful to the user. We have designed a prototype assistive technology based on a commercially available robot arm to tackle both the cost and functionality problems. Our prototype has been programmed to interface with custom plates and utensils. In addition, it is able to be cleaned, placed, and operated independently by the user with minimal assistance from a caregiver. The solution was designed/programmed using SolidWorks and Arduino software and developed with 3D printing technology. Preliminary results of the robot arm prototype, a medical assistive technology, have determined that it is an effective solution in assisting the user to feed themselves independently. Research in to other potential actions is ongoing. Future work will focus on increasing capabilities of the device in terms of: compatible accessories, functions to run additional tasks, and refined user interface.

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