A bionic arm to lend a hand

IT’S A HANDFUL: (From left) Engineering Science students Duan Jia Fei and Kevin Chew with their humanoid robotic arm. TNP PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

These students hope their bionic robot arm can replace human workers operating in dangerous environments, such as defusing bombs or carting away toxic waste.

Diploma in Engineering Science students Duan Jia Fei and Kevin Chew, both 20, have designed their own humanoid robotic arm, Your Mechanical Right-Hand Man.

"Although this has been done before, we built ours from scratch," said Mr Duan, a Singapore permanent resident from China.

"The only thing we were given was a plastic structure of the hand by our supervisor.

"We even constructed the framework for the arm and programmed everything to work.

"Of course there were problems, such as the arm vibrating when it moved upwards. We solved it by adding a counterweight."


The framework, which maps the structure of the human arm, was used by the duo in developing a highly-capable robotic version that can be remotely controlled.

Your Mechanical Right-Hand Man consists of a "slave" multi-fingered humanoid robot arm and a "master" set of gloves.

An operator wearing the master gloves, with a smartphone strapped on, can control the robotic arm through electric signals. The robotic arm mimics the movement of the fingers and arm of the operator.

Mr Duan said: "It currently runs on batteries or adaptors but we aim to make it portable. When used in industrial and dangerous areas, the operator can move things and keep a safe distance at the same time."