JACO, A Robot Arm For The Weary
Lee Rannals for RedOrbit.com
Kinova, a Canadian robotics company, is revolutionizing the wheelchair in a new way, giving an ability to some who may have lost it.
Kinova invented JACO, a six-axis robotic manipulator arm with a three-fingered hand. The company had JACO on display at the 2012 International Conference on Robotics and Automation.
JACO helps significantly improve the lives of those who are disabled and have reduced mobility in their upper body.
The robotic arm is able to grasp objects like cups, eggs, apples, and just about anything else that can be grabbed with finger tips and fit in the palm of a hand.
Kinova has found a way to utilize JACO by installing them onto the back of wheelchairs for those who experience upper body impairment.
Charles Deguire, the C.E.O. and co-founder of the Canadian company, has ties to a disabled person in his family. Deguire’s uncle, Jacques Forest, who JACO was named after, suffered from muscular dystrophy and retained only the use of his left thumb.
Forest had limited capacity to carry-out some of the daily tasks needed in order to live more comfortably.
Deguire began modifying tools he used on a daily basis for Forest, creating his first tele-manipulator in 1993. All his work eventually lead to JACO.
JACO showed off its stuff at the 2012 ICRA, as participants used a remote to control the robotic arm to pick up a glass, pour in water, then grab a straw to place in the cup.
The robotic arm also showed off how it is capable of grabbing sensitive objects like a strawberry without crushing it.
Its carbon fiber structure is weatherproof, making it the perfect candidate to strap to the back of a wheelchair for helping the needy.
JACO is also unbelievably quiet and has low energy consumption. It is directly powered by the battery of the motorized wheelchair, and consumes about as much energy as a light bulb.
The arm has the ability to reach objects about 35 inches away that weigh a maximum of about 2.2 to 3 pounds.
Kinova also has a research edition of JACO that can be used on a mobile platform so scientists could have a robotic arm for functions they are unable to do themselves.