Design and Development of a Low Cost, Light Weight, Hydraulic Manipulator for Mounting on a Wheelchair

Ezra H Fritz


This research presents an alternative low cost design option to the current wheelchair-mountable robotic arms (WMRAs) available for paralyzed patients.  According to a 2009 study, more than 5.5 million people struggle with paralysis in the U.S. alone.  Due to the high numbers affected, there is an urgent need to develop a WMRA that will increase the quality of life for paralyzed patients by restoring some of the independence they have lost.  Current robotic arms on the market are cost-prohibitive and mostly electrically powered, which produces less power than hydraulics for the same size system, resulting in reduced payload capacity of the robotic arm.  Thus, the major load bearing components on the proposed robotic arm will be powered by hydraulics, with only a few low loading components requiring electrical power.  Major design considerations are: cost, payload capacity, storage, aesthetics, location of the WMRA, and ease of use (i.e. low maintenance and no interference with wheelchair user’s freedom).  Several designs were considered and the final design was chosen with a decision matrix that considered the most important design criteria including: cost, payload capacity, maneuverability, storage, and weight.  In order to analyze the structural integrity of the robotic arm, free body diagrams were created and a kinematic analysis of the motion of the robot was performed.  SOLIDWORKS and MATLAB also complemented the design analysis process, allowing simulations to view the motion of each link and characterize their dynamics.  The results of this research and the hydraulic manipulator created will provide limitless help to those bound to wheelchairs by their paralysis, providing them with a better and more normal life.

Keywords: Arm, Robotic, Hydraulic


Arm; Robotic; Hydraulic

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