P08023: Air Muscle Artificial Limb I

Mission Statement

Table of Contents

Product Description

This project will primary focus around the new design of an artificial arm that is powered by air muscles. There exists a design of such an arm that the team will be analyzing and attempting to improve. Some of the major goals are to achieve 2 degrees of freedom in the finger motion as well as three degrees of freedom in the thumb motion. The hand wants to be scalable as a long term goal. In addition, the team wants to improve the tactile sensing of the finger tips in hope of the arm being more realistic. The goal is to design an arm capable of the full range of hand and finger motions, possess haptic feedback, is of an anatomically correct size, and is low cost. The team will be divided into three subgroups all of which will be given a different project task. An original hand model will be analyzed and used as the foundation for a new hand design.

Key Business Goals

The technology to produce such a robotic hand has existed and has been in common use for years. Our project is an attempt to lower the cost of such a product by using more economically friendly air muscles. The customer is looking for a low cost alternative to what is currently available. Low cost primary refers to the assembly and fabrication of the artifical limb. For example, an air muscle can be purchases for roughly $80-$120 where it only cost about $5 for all the parts. The team will be saving a lot of costs by fabricating and assembling parts on their own. This project could improve the quality of life for many amputees as well as make surgical operations more reliable.

Primary Market

Research and Teaching Tool

Internal to RIT:

Used as a research tool to as a research tool to develop a microscale system that can be used in a variety of applications ranging from biomedical to industrial applications. The limb will also likely be used as a teaching tool to support biomechanics, or any other developing bioengineering course.

Secondary Market

Specialized Item

For example, the military could be a target audience - using it for everything from telemedicine to picking up materials that a human hand wouldn't want to. That is one of the advantages of using pneumatics - that it could be used in a variety of environments, even in an industrial setting, since there are no electronics.

Assumptions and Constraints

The team must first work on a large scale arm in order to properly complete their analyzes. After an understanding of the current model is attained by the team, their next task will be to add scalability as an attribute to the project. The team will be focusing on design issues throughout the entire project which will help to aid the transition from the current to the future arm design.

Proposed Budget: $2500

Note: The budget is somewhat flexible however the above value matches the scope of the project very well at this point.


The new hand design wants to mimic actual hand motion as closely as possible. All hand motions want to be as accurate as possible displaying the full range of motions as an actual human hand. One major task of the design team will be to characterize the limitations, if any, that the air muscles and solenoid valve configuration may posses. Several test will be performed to help aid this process.


(1) Dr. Kathleen Lamkin-Kennard - Design Team adviser/acting customer

(2) The Initial End User;

(3) RIT Mechanical Engineering Department

(4) Possibly the Medical Industry;

(5) Orthopedic Specialists

(6) Nursing Staff

(7) Prosthetic Designers

(8) Occupational Therapists

(9) Psychologists

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