Robotics will allow us to manage our environment with four arms at a time

In the Inami Hiyama Laboratory at the University of Tokyo (Japan), together with the group Embodied Media of Keio University had the idea of presenting a very curious proposal within the field of robotics: some “extra arms” that provide any Person a

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curious aspect, especially by their genuine movements, which are controlled by the feet. The technical name given to it is MetaLimbs and its study is called Multiple Arms Interaction Metamorphism. According to their creators, part of the idea of trying to answer the question that “How can we model or design our own bodies?”

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The answer is in a way to overcome the physical limitations of human beings, giving us more arms and hands capable of grasping objects or handling tools and apparatus – something that goes beyond other trivial improvements. These new robotic arms are large and heavy and are attached to the body with a harness, as if they were a backpack.

They are designed to be used in a seated position, although in certain circumstances the user can stand and let them hang freely; it depends a little on the circumstances and the work to be done. The way to control the new mechanical members is somewhat peculiar: using socks equipped with sensors that detect the movements that will imitate the new arms.

On the one hand the positions of the legs mark the movements of the arms (in general) and on the other hand the toes are used for the gestures of grip. The prototype uses both a pair of physical sensors in the socks and optical sensors (and marks on feet and knees) for all other movements. To provide some feedback, the sock sensors employ haptic contact technology, which means they transmit the sensation captured by robotic hands – for example, to calculate the force with which to tighten at the time of Grasping objects.

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