Researchers from Imperial College London have developed a malleable robotic arm that can be guided by augmented reality (AR) smart goggles to position itself according to specific tasks.

The bendable robotic arm, which can twist and turn itself into various shapes — thanks to slippery layers of Mylar sheets that slide and lock into place — was further enhanced with the addition of mixed reality smart goggles that guide the wearer to reconfigure the arm.

Source: Imperial College of LondonSource: Imperial College of London

According to the researchers, the AR smart goggles enable users to visualize how the robotic arm can best be configured for accomplishing specific tasks. This is done via motion tracking cameras that enable the user to see templates and designs superimposed over real-world environments. When the user moves the robotic arm to match the superimposed templates, the robot reportedly achieves the most successful configurations according to what the robotic arm is tasked with carrying out.

The system, according to researchers, is appropriate for manufacturing, building and vehicle maintenance, and injury rehabilitation applications.

For more information about the robotic arm system, watch the accompanying video that appears courtesy of Imperial College London.

The article detailing the system, Augmented Reality-Assisted Reconfiguration and Workspace Visualization of Malleable Robots: Workspace Modification Through Holographic Guidance, appears in the IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine.

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