Learn How to Build a Robotic Arm, From the 19-Year-Old Who Did

Robo Arm2As if it wasn’t impressive enough that Easton LaChapelle, a 19-year-old high school graduate, used LEGOs, toy airplane motors, fishing line and electrical tubing to build a robotic arm controlled by thought, he has now uploaded his technique to YouTube, for anyone to learn and copy. His (admirable) goal is to provide any amputee with the need for cheap prosthesis a cheap way to create one. His product costs much less than the tens of thousands a prosthesis can run.

LaChapelle says that he was inspired to create the product when he met a young girl born with a birth defect: a missing arm. While creating his DIY prosthesis, he reached out to Jeremy Blum, a vlogger with a following of 90,000 subscribers on YouTube. Blum contributed the programming language which enables the robotic hand to communicate wirelessly. Instead of using expensive 3D printing services available locally, Blum used his connections with MakerBot, a 3D printer company, to access its hardware and print the various parts of the arm.

People took notice of the pair’s impressive design – LaChapelle gave his own TED talk and was invited to the White House Science Fair, where he displayed his product and met President Obama.

Constantly interested in improving and upgrading his invention, LaChapelle has most recently developed an EEG headset that can receive messages from the human brain and control the arm accordingly. LaChapelle, rather than guarding his technology, is all about access. His latest model costs approximately $350 dollars, making it affordable. The instructions and software needed to create it are available on his website (UnlimitedTomorrow.com), making it accessible for all.