TitanArm Receives First Place at 2013 Intel Cornell Cup
Team Titan returned to Penn Engineering the First Place winners of the 2013 Intel Cornell Cup, held May 2-4 at Walt Disney World. Team members are Elizabeth Beattie, a senior in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM) and MEAM doctoral student beginning this fall, Nick McGill, a senior majoring in both MEAM and Electrical and Systems Engineering and a a submatriculant in the Robotics master's program, Nick Parrotta, a senior and submatriculant in MEAM, and Niko Vladimirov, a senior in MEAM and submatriculant in Integrated Product Design.
Team Titan designed "TitanArm," an untethered, powered, upper body exoskeleton for use in the fields of rehabilitation and therapeutic application, as well as occupations requiring augmented strength. Though exoskeleton systems exist, past exoskeleton endeavors have led to bulky, expensive, invasive, and tethered solutions. The challenge undertaken by the MEAM students was to build an exoskeletal system that is inexpensive, streamlined, and wireless.
Their solution is unique in that it is a low-cost, ergonomic device actuated through sensors measuring the user's motion and muscle activity. Through on-board sensing, the skeleton can provide rich data, such as range of motion or strength for use in physical therapy. This data can be used by doctors and patients to more accurately track improvement over time. With its low cost, hospitals could employ multiple devices and aid a larger audience of patients; the devices could even be used at home for physical therapy, which would dramatically increase quality of life for patients.
Outside of physical therapy, augmented strength is applicable to physically intensive occupations, as well as search and rescue operations. Each year, thousands of workers must take leave due to injuries triggered by heavy lifting; with augmented strength, workers could avoid harmful situations.
TitanArm is also the winner of the 2013 Judges Choice Award in the MEAM Senior Design competition and the second-place winner of the school-wide Penn Engineering Senior Design competition. The project has received extensive media coverage, including:
- Discovery Channel: "Daily Planet: May 1st 2013"
- Gizmodo: "Elysium"
- Engadget: "UPenn's TitanArm exoskeleton prototype makes light work of heavy lifting" and "Eyes-on: University of Pennsylvania's TitanArm exoskeleton"
The Cornell Cup is a college-level competition created to provide the newest, innovative applications of embedded technology, computer systems built for specific tasks. The student team was advised during the competition by Rahul Mangharam, Stephen J. Angello Term Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering and Jonathan Fiene, Senior Lecturer in MEAM.