STEM II consists of a group assistive technology project taught by Dr. C.

Scopey: An Affordable Robotic Feeding Device For Those With Upper Body Mobility Restrictions

During this project, I worked together with Giang Pham, Vaishnavi Harish, Omar El Nesr, Kweku Akese, Amy Chen, McKenna Childs, and Marlon Jost. Kweku Akese and I were responsible for group leadership. I also worked on designing the robot using CAD and assembling.

Problem Statement

The ability to eat is essential to human survival, and yet never thought of beyond the content of the meal. However, medical conditions such as Merosin-Deficient Muscular Dystrophy, a condition that our client suffers from, causes muscle weakness and contractions that make eating a difficult task. While many support networks exist to assist these patients, such as the Seven Hills Foundation in Worcester, these individuals deserve the opportunity and freedom of feeding themselves with ease and independence. To do this, many technologies have been invented such as the Obi and ASIBOT feeding devices, but flaws with these designs make them undesirable or inaccessible. Existing feeding devices range from adaptive utensils to automated robotic arms, a nd although these devices are able to benefit thousands of users, high cost is the primary issue with the majority of options, greatly reducing the impact of these pieces of technology. However, an inexpensive assistive feeding device with full functionality has the potential to benefit thousands of people and allow them to regain their independence during mealtimes without costing thousands of dollars.

Design Approach

To help people who struggle to eat independently, we developed an inexpensive robotic feeding arm, Scopey. The main features of our arm include linear vertical and horizontal movement, achieved with a threaded-rod system and continuous rigging respectively. We decided on this design to maximize the amount of control we had over moving parts and ensure client safety. For our control mechanism, we used a Raspberry Pi. We constructed the design with the potential to add machine learning in the future. We plan to continue our project to help individuals who may otherwise not be able to feed themselves.