Hey there, ladies and gents! Today, I'd like to open with a question. How'd you feel about having a robot arm?
No, I don't mean transforming yourselves into some sort of awesome cybernetic metahuman (sadly). I'm talking about the uArm, a robotic desktop companion that just surpassed its funding goals on Kickstarter. The Arduino-powered device is inspired by the much larger (and considerably more expensive) ABB PalletPack robot arm. While that robot's used in heavy-duty manufacturing, uArm is just a little bit more compact.
uArm is equipped with a wide range of different attachments, including a gripping hand and a vacuum-pump suction cup. Since it's modular, it's easily possible to design and attach your own add-on, modifying the arm to do pretty much whatever you can conceive of. Well...within reason, anyway. The gadget itself is controlled through a Windows application; the developer has apps for both Android and iOS in development.
The arm - which goes for $185 in kit form and $279 pre-assembled - is available in both acrylic and wood. Either model could easily be used for a wide array of different functions, including moving stuff along one's desk, handing out animal treats, or even move pieces on a game board.
That's pretty cool in and of itself, but it gets even better when you stop and think what it could potentially represent in the context of 3D printing. Think about it: given that the uArm is modeled after the robotic arms used in actual factories, it could very easily be adapted for home-construction purposes. Maybe that's a little advanced for the time being, but imagine having your own desktop factory. I don't know about you, but I find that concept pretty awesome, even if it's not possible within the immediate future.
Oh, did I forget to mention that the team behind uArm intends to make the robot and its design files/software open source after the Kickstarter concludes? That seems like a pretty important detail to note.