This DIY Robot Can Feed You, Be Controlled With Just a Look

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The iCraft Team. [Credit: Mary Knox Merrill]
Is there anything a robotic arm can’t do? They can juggle balls, manufacture microchips, and crush humanity.

Six electrical- and computer-engineering students from Northeastern University thought that robotics’ most useful creation should be used in more ways to assist mankind. And so they hacked together a robotic feeding arm that you can control with your just eyes.

The team’s Eye-Controlled Robotic Arm Feeding Technology (iCraft for short) was designed to help elderly and disabled users who have difficulty feeding themselves. The system uses a relatively simple eye-tracking solution; to use it, all you have to do is look towards the box with the corresponding food you would like to eat and the robotic arm does the rest (okay, you still have to lean your head slightly forward).

Unlike some other human-controlled robotic arms that we’ve seen, you don’t need to precisely operate it with a joystick or install a microchip into your brain. As long as you’re able to move your pupils around, you can use it.

The whole system is pretty straightforward and there’s nothing new with an arm that moves objects in a designated path. However, the iCraft also represents a helper robot you could actually build at home. The Students have already put up the open-source software behind iCraft on the net and the arm only costs $900 to develop--a significant bargain compared to other self-feeding machines that usually go for $3000 or more.

[Northeastern University via Engadget]

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