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Advances in the Design and Operation of Artificial Arms

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr James Bendall.

Despite superficial similarities, the design of artificial arms is very different from that of robots. This is due to the tough requirements that such a device has to fulfil, they have to be practical. Not only do they have to be light and compact enough to be carried around, but they must have toughness end endurance. They must be easy to use and most importantly, cheap enough to be affordable by more than a small percentage of the population.

The ease of use is crucial as humans are very adaptable. If they can perform a task quicker some other way, rather than through a complex set of actions to drive their prosthesis, then they will and the device will remain unused. The history of prosthetics is littered with elegant engineered solutions that have proved to be impractical when faced with the ultimate test of the real world. So although this makes the task more difficult it also creates challenges that engineers and therapists are facing.

This talk will look at a number of solutions that are currently being proposed, such as the analysis of the patterns of contractions performed by the muscles in the forearm to drive artificial arms. It will also examine other means of control and actuation.

Finally, the operation of natural hands is complex and many have an impact on the acceptability (or otherwise) of newer designs of prostheses.

This talk is part of the Nanoscience Centre Seminar Series series.

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