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Lego prosthetics: the next level in artificial limbs?

Lego prosthetics: the next level in artificial limbs?

Posting in Design

An Engineering student has created a sophisticated prosthetic limb made out of Lego.

A Lego prosthetic arm designed by an engineering student displays a full range of motion and closely mimics a human limb.

Designer Max Shepherd has managed to create a sophisticated replica of a human arm and hand made entirely from Legos. Lego pneumatics power the hand and wrist movements -- such as wrist abduction/adduction and complicated hand gestures, whereas Lego motors power wrist pronation/supination, flexing and extensions. Elbow movements are also powered by these motors.

Each finger can be controlled independently in the midst of performing complicated wrist and joint movements.

The main purpose of the project was to accurately mimic the range of motions that are available to a human hand, and the secondary motive was to maximize speed and power.

The Lego robotic arm is designed as an above elbow prosthesis, but we're unlikely to see it in mass production any time soon. As a prototype, it currently can only lift a few pounds in weight, and must be controlled with a plethora of switches, air pumps and joysticks.

Other projects that Shepherd has previously work on include a wheelchair that unfolds in to a Segway, a gripper that can manipulate an egg without breaking it, and a leaf blower-powered hovercraft.

View the video below to see the arm in action.

Image Credit: Max Shepherd

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure