Students at University of Massachusetts, Lowell developed a low cost robot arm specifically designed to open doors. They presented the DORA (Door Opening Robotic Arm) last week at the IEEE robotics conference in Woburn, Massachusetts, and the New Scientist is reporting that the device was able “to open doors with 14 different handles in 85 per cent of tests involving pushing the door and 65 per cent of pulling tests.”
From the New Scientist:
To keep her device simple, Rapacki used a single motor and avoided the expense of cameras and elaborate sensors. Instead, a motor-driven set of gears extends the gripper towards the handle with its three fingers spread apart (see diagram).
Rapacki first tried flexible neoprene fingers, thinking that they could bend to grasp the knob, but these proved too thick and soft. Stiff plastic fingers with plates to constrain their sideways motion proved much more effective.
She also added a slip clutch to the drive system, to allow the device to hold and turn the knob at the same time as pushing or pulling.
More from New Scientist…
Project page: Door Opening Robotic Arm (DORA)