This Robotic Arm Extension Is the Perfect Social Distancing Tool

Allen Pan's hacked together device features a three-meter "slap bracelet."

Jeremy S. Cook
3 months agoCOVID-19

Like the rest of us, Allen Pan has been practicing safe social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic While Skype, Zoom, et al can at least allow us to see each other’s faces, it would be nice to be able to have actual human contact from time to time. So, how do you accomplish that while still maintaining the proper six feet away? In Pan's case, you “simply” buy a gigantic military-grade slap bracelet, and "slap on" a robot hand.

The build, per limited supplies availability, along with Pan’s general project ethos, is entertainingly cobbled together. The coolest part is the three-meter Rolatube arm extension, which is meant to be used for quick antenna deployment, but now is used a six-foot-plus arm for social distancing. It’s unrolled by a hacked electronic ratchet wrench in a laser cut acrylic housing. On the end of the Rolatube, Pan mounted a heavily modified toy robot arm gripper device, powered by a servo motor. This communicates via the base of the assembly over WiFi, enabling him to open and close the hand with hot glue-mounted buttons.

Despite its apparently haphazard construction, it is actually functional, extending on command and picking up an apple, then pulling it back to Pan for consumption. Social interaction-wise, it lets him shake hands, pet a beard, and even rescue a “cat” from a tree.

Jeremy S. Cook
Engineer, maker of random contraptions, love learning about tech. Write for various publications, including Hackster!
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