Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Rajiv Dubey, Ph.D

Committee Member

Craig Lusk, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kathryn DeLaurentis, Ph.D.


Carbon fiber, Harmonic drive, Wheelchair, Assistive device, WMRA


Wheelchair-bound individuals who have limited or no upper-limb usage have difficulty with picking and placing of objects, opening doors, and other activities of daily living (ADLs), such as turning on a light switch or drinking from a cup. A wheelchair-mounted robot arm (WMRA) would aid individuals with completing ADLs and increase their independence, therefore an improved WMRA has been designed. Building upon previous WMRA research and incorporating research from industrial robot arms, carbon fiber tubing is the main component for the structure of the arm, a novel development for WMRAs. Factors that go into WMRA design include weight, speed, safety, robustness, cost, and the anticipated tasks. Many of these factors, such as weight, speed, and cost, can be improved upon compared to previous WMRAs by using carbon fiber materials.

The use of carbon fiber enables the arm to be strong, but also lighter weight than other WMRAs. Testing was conducted on the pultruded carbon fiber tubing to ensure that the structure of the arm could withstand the necessary bending and tensile forces for the arm to hold up to 3.85kg, the standard weight of a gallon of milk, at the end effector. The arm's carbon fiber frame also allows the motor and sensor wiring to run internally, which improves the arm's safety and aesthetics, while protecting it from the arm's external environment.

Lightweight high-torque motors, harmonic drives, newly designed carbon fiber frame, and a stand-alone 8-axis motion-control board, allow the arm to weigh less, have a longer overall length, be more robust, and be safer electronically than the previous University of South Florida WMRA, which was shown through prototype testing.