Rice College engineering college students design a robotic cup gadget for folks residing with cerebral palsy.
Rice undergraduate engineering college students Thomas Kutcher and Rafe Neathery rose to the problem, and the result’s RoboCup ⎯ a robotic gadget that permits folks with restricted mobility to remain hydrated with out assist.
“We needed to make it doable for folks with cerebral palsy or related mobility challenges to drink water autonomously reasonably than needing to depend on caregiver help,” stated Kutcher, who’s a bioengineering main.
“The gadget is designed for wheelchair customers who may need bother holding a cup, and our hope is that it’ll grant customers higher freedom.”
Anybody with entry to a 3D printer can assemble their very own RoboCup by downloading the directions, that are available for free at team RoboCup’s OEDK website.
Kutcher and Neathery weighed questions of mental property and entrepreneurship of their effort to make sure the results of their work could be helpful and accessible to those that want it. Ultimately, they determined to make RoboCup freely accessible.
RoboCup might be mounted on customers’ wheelchairs and customised to greatest serve their mobility wants. The battery-powered gadget is activated both through a proximity sensor or a button, relying on customers’ wants or preferences.
“We requested professionals working with individuals who have wants much like Gary’s about what we might do to enhance the gadget,” Kutcher stated.
“They actually appreciated our challenge and confirmed its potential, however additionally they identified that as a way to attain as many individuals as doable, we would have liked to include extra choices for constructing the gadget, comparable to various kinds of sensors, valves and mechanisms for mounting the gadget on totally different wheelchair varieties.”
Making the gadget extra accessible additionally meant simplifying it. The staff eliminated among the extra sophisticated or costly elements and located alternate options for customized elements that required particular tools to be manufactured.
“It was a problem strolling that skinny line between simplifying the gadget and sacrificing performance or robustness,” stated Neathery, who’s a mechanical engineering main.
“We needed to maintain it working effectively whereas nonetheless making it easier and cheaper. Balancing all these concerns was actually tough, however we did get to some extent the place it’s now so much simpler to 3D print and assemble the gadget utilizing easy, readily accessible instruments.”
The scholars labored carefully with Lynn to optimize the design, which went by a number of iterations. An preliminary prototype featured a camelback however was scrapped for the mounted cup-and-straw model, which Lynn stated regarded higher and interfered much less with locomotion.
“The present design was extra interesting to Gary, and we predict it’ll be extra interesting to different customers as effectively,” Neathery stated.
“This staff ⎯ our college students and Gary ⎯ had been so persistent and keen to maintain modifying the design till they received a workable system,” stated Maria Oden, a professor of bioengineering, OEDK director, co-director of the Rice 360° Institute for International Well being and the staff’s mentor.
“Our engineers had been keen to take exhausting suggestions from Gary when the gadget didn’t work in addition to we hoped and preserve at it till they received a design that’s a lot improved. As well as, they needed to make it possible for the design was accessible to those that needed to make one.”
Each Gary and his mom Andrea Lynn expressed their hope that the challenge brings consideration to the struggles of individuals residing with disabilities who’ve a tough time with one thing as straightforward as ingesting water.
“This cup will give independence to folks with restricted mobility of their arms,” Gary Lynn stated. “Getting to do that little process by themselves will improve the boldness of the particular person utilizing the gadget.”
To assist unfold the phrase about RoboCup, Kutcher and Neathery entered the gadget within the World Cerebral Palsy Day “Remarkable Designa-thon,” a contest meant to advertise “concepts for a brand new services or products that might change lives” for folks within the cerebral palsy neighborhood. Winners are chosen from a brief record of concepts voted by the general public. To solid a vote, go to the gallery of ideas between Oct. 6-13 and press the love/coronary heart button subsequent to your favourite challenge.
Supply: Rice University