Flexible robotic arm put to work with AR
According to Imperial, the flexible arm can twist and turn in all directions, making it customisable for applications in manufacturing, spacecraft maintenance, and injury rehabilitation. In use, people working with the robot would manually bend the arm into the precise shape needed for each task, a level of flexibility made possible by layers of mylar sheets inside, which slide over one another and can lock into place. So far, configuring the robot into specific shapes without guidance has presented challenges.
To enhance the robot’s user-friendliness, researchers at Imperial’s REDS (Robotic manipulation: Engineering, Design, and Science) Lab designed a system for users to see in AR how to configure their robot. Wearing mixed reality smartglasses and through motion tracking cameras, users see templates and designs in front of them superimposed onto their real-world environment. They then adjust the robotic arm until it matches the template, which turns green on successful configuration so that the robot can be locked into place.