A state-of-the-art upper limb 3D cable rehabilitation robot

Launched in September 2021, the new ArmMotus™ EMU is the first cable-operated 3D rehabilitation robot for the upper limb.

The ArmMotus™ UEM recently won the Red Dot Design Award— a kind of “Oscar” of the sector, since it is the most coveted industrial design prize. The product has been reviewed by over 50 experts, including independent designers, design professors and industry media partners. Among the features they considered were the ergonomics of its design, its aesthetics and its functionality.

With its highly developed control system that performs and responds more efficiently to various movements, the multifunctional ArmMotus™ EMU sets a new benchmark for smart rehabilitation devices and redefines human-machine interaction.

Sarah Lim is the assistant director of at Fourier intelligencethe Soft Bank-funded company that created and manufactured the product. She says:

“The EMU is the world’s first cable-controlled 3D rehabilitation robot for the upper limb. It is an effector product compared to other upper limb 3D robots, which are exoskeletons.

Watch a demonstration video of the ArmMotus™ EMU robot:

In other words, the ArmMotus™ EMU is the first of its kind to apply an end-effector-based concept to 3D motion. In robotics, an end effector is a device or tool that is connected to the end of a robot arm. It is the part of the robot that interacts with the environment, and both its structure and the nature of the programming and hardware depend on the task the robot is supposed to perform.

A cable-driven mechanism

Another feature of the EMU ArmMotus ™ is the minimalist, almost transparent structure, derived from its cable mechanism combined with a parallel structure with 4 links in light carbon. These features effectively reduce friction and inertia during movement, allowing the control system to react and operate more efficiently, thereby improving the level of human-machine interaction.

Sarah Lim explained:

“The main technical challenge involved in creating this device was the fact that, as the motors are based in the center of the EMU’s body, we had to work on balancing its base. Additionally, the team had to finding a cable suitable for a long life cycle to avoid frequent changes.That’s why the ArmMotus™ EMU went through 17 design iterations.

(Credit: Fourier Intelligence)
(Credit: Fourier Intelligence)

The ArmMotus™ EMU targets upper limb disabilities caused by neurological and musculoskeletal disorders, as well as geriatric conditions. It is capable of performing training assessments and can accurately measure trajectory, strength, cognitive ability, range of motion (ROM), and motor control while generating a report after the workout. The quantifiable data from these reports allows therapists to assess the user’s progress and more accurately plan subsequent therapy steps.

(Credit: Fourier Intelligence)
(Credit: Fourier Intelligence)

The product’s force feedback technology allows it to simulate the hands of a therapist and helps the user adjust the assistance or resistance according to different rehabilitation needs. Moreover, users benefit from its fast installation time and can enjoy the various gaming options.

Innovative robotics

Fourier Intelligence is a technology-driven company that has been developing exoskeletons and rehabilitation robots since 2015. Winner of the 2021 competition Shanghai Design Innovation Center Awardhe defines his vision as “the world’s leading enabler of smart technologies for human well-being” and as his mission to “transcend innovative robotics, clinically empowering human capabilities”.

In collaboration with researchers, therapists and patients, it aims to excel in the development and redefinition of rehabilitation robotics solutions with intelligent interconnectable robotic technology by improving the user experience with an intuitive and easy-to-use system for the benefit patients and therapists.

The creation of the ArmMotus™ EMU came after numerous studies and evaluations from a simple wooden prototype and was made possible through a research collaboration between industry (Fourier Intelligence) and academia (the University of Melbourne Robotics Laboratory). The product was launched on the market in September 2021, during the virtual RehabWeek 2021.

Christopher S. Washington