For those that have always wished for superhuman strength, here is some good news - A group of engineering students from the University of Pennsylvania have invented a way to make it happen instantly! And while it may not be enough to save a damsel in distress, it is guaranteed to impress your friends.
Dubbed Titan Arm, the robotic device that can be worn on the right arm like an exoskeleton across the shoulders and back, grants the wearer the ability to carry an additional 40 pounds. Though not enough for a superhero, it sure is for people suffering from debilitating ailments like arthritis, accident injuries or even just old age. It is also a great aid for people that work in professions that involve lifting heavy objects constantly - Like the UPS or FEDEX delivery men and women.
In fact those are the reasons Nick Parrotta and his classmates Elizabeth Beattie, Nick McGill and Niko Vladimirov decided to create the robotic arm for their Senior Capstone project, in 2013. They began the design process by modeling pieces with a 3-D printer and then built a prototype using aluminum. After months of testing the first fully functioning Titan Arm was finally unveiled to the world, late last year.
Made to fit over the right arm, the 18 pound device that is controlled with a handheld joystick, allows the wearer to instantly lift up to 40 extra pounds without causing any strain on the body. It is also fitted with sensors that measure the range of motion and track the user's strength - important for people that are recuperating from an injury.
Wearable robots are of course nothing new. Many companies have invented exoskeletons that help even those that are paralyzed. The reason the Titan Arm is generating so much excitement is its affordability. While similar devices cost over $10,000 USD to make, the brilliant Penn students were able to create the prototype for a mere $2,000 USD.
The ingenious design has already won the $10,000 USD Intel Cornell Cup and the 2013 James Dyson Award. Besides the bragging rights of being the first US contestants to win this prestigious challenge where students are invited to solve a problem through design, the team also received $65,000 USD in prize money. These funds will go a long way in helping them perfect the Titan Arm and hopefully, bring it to market soon.
Besides being super cool, inventions like these have the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for millions of people that currently live with physically impairing disabilities. And while the young scientists who invented the Titanic Arm might not have discovered super-strength, they can certainly be considered (super) heroes.
Resources: news.yahoo.com, huffingtonpost.com, dailymail.co.uk, technical.ly