A team of four mechanical engineering students from the University of Pennsylvania have won the 2013 Dyson Award competition, along with a $48,000 donation for their development of Titan Arm, a powered upper-body exoskeleton. An additional $16,000 also went to UPenn’s engineering department.
Titan Arm augments human strength by 40 lb., letting the user lift objects without the risk of arm and back injuries. The exoskeleton’s back brace is built into a frame with adjustable straps measured for adults in the U.S. who are in the 15th to 90th percentile for height—between 67.5 and 72.9 in.
Besides developing custom software that controls the suit and transmits data in real-time, the students used 3D printing, CNC machining, and CAD software to develop several prototypes.
Because their prototype costs less than $2,000, Titan Arm’s design team hopes to make the exoskeleton more accessible than other bionic devices that can cost over $100,000. A future version of the Titan Arm technology will be open-source.