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U of I Engineering Students Prototype Robotic Arm for Discovery Science Center

August 22, 2019

U of I Engineering Students Prototype Robotic Arm for Discovery Science Center

University of Idaho College of Engineering graduates are collaborating with the Discovery Science Center in Boise to bring a robotic arm exhibit to the hands-on science center.

The robotic arm uses LEDs and monochromatic cameras to generate 3D versions of the objects it observes. Users simply hold their hands over the small device, and without touching it, the controller can track an individual's palm, forearm and individual finger joints on each hand. These messages are transferred to the robotic arm, which can mimic a user's movements at the shoulder, elbow and wrist. Its base can rotate, and the arm can sort, stack and build using wooden blocks.

About 120,000 visit the Discovery Center of Idaho each year for its many interactive exhibits. Executive Director Eric Miller said the new exhibit will be the center’s first focused on robotics.

“We haven’t had a lot of exhibits that use technology to this degree,” he said. “This will not be just a simple push-button type of exhibit.”

Mechanical engineering and computer science majors Chaeun Kim, Evangelos Stratigakes, Austyn Sullivan-Watson, and Zhihui Wang spent the last year developing the robotic arm as part of the College of Engineering’s nationally ranked senior design capstone program.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at


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