Battery Assisted Grabber

  • Jeremy Wharton
  • Charles Swanson
  • Clayton Skaggs
  • Justin Hickey

Our Motorized Grabber started as a simple idea. We heard residents from the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation speak about the kind of practical things that would improve their quality of life. One big issue they had is not having either the strength or the dexterity in their hands and arms most times to pick up items they drop on the floor or grabbing items that are out of their reach. They use the trigger-style mechanical grabbers to pick up items they dropped or open doors and drawers. However, they struggle to handle objects with those grabbers. The problems they had were squeezing the trigger to hold the claw shut and lifting the weight of the dropped item or pulling the door open. Being able to pick items up is one of those things that, as people without this disability, we take advantage of daily. We wanted to take a shot at creating something to improve this aspect of their life. That’s where the idea of the Motorized Grabber was born. 

We started off just motorizing an existing grabber. We did this successfully on our first night as a group by attaching the cable from a mechanical grabber to a pulley hooked onto the rotor of a motor. Next, we decided to move to controlling the open and close functionality of the grabber using a microprocessor, motor, push-buttons and a claw that we fabricated ourselves. While a fair place to start, it proved to be a bulky, awkward to use, and a little too heavy for comfort giving us several ideas on how to improve the design. We then made our design lighter, more efficient and effectively more powerful by changing our claw mechanism to a linear actuator and adding features such as a pistol grip, printed circuit board with relays and additional linear actuators to telescope, or extend and retract, our claw. The result of all this research and modifications was a sleek, easy to use, state of the art motorized grabber. Our group is positive that the Motorized Grabber can improve the quality of life for those who struggle to operate a grabber. 

Currently, there is nothing like our grabber on the market, and, as we’ve seen with the CPRF, there is a real need for a product like this.  It could improve the lives of not only those people affected by Cerebral Palsy, but also people with other handicaps and people that are on bed rest.