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A Novel Integrated Spoon-chopsticks Mechanism for a Meal Assistant Robotic System

Rongwan Chen, Tae-Keun Kim, Jung-Hoon Hwang, and Seong Young Ko*
International Journal of Control, Automation, and Systems, vol. 20, no. 9, pp.3019-3031, 2022

Abstract : In order to help the disabled who have difficulty eating meals and to help their caretakers or family members, various types of meal assistant robots (MARs) have been developed worldwide in the last few decades. Some of them have been already commercialized. For these robotic systems, the eating utensil serves as an endeffector and plays a vital role, as it determines the type of food that MARs can handle. In addition, the eating utensils for MARs must be carefully designed while taking into consideration the local traditional culture and food culture. Most existing MARs developed by Western society are not suitable for Asian food, including the Korean one. Asian foods include various vegetables and steamed rice, and Asian people enjoy using chopsticks as well as spoons. In this paper, a novel integrated spoon-chopsticks mechanism was proposed. The proposed mechanism was integrated to the advanced MAR as its end-effector. The proposed mechanism was designed to change eating utensils and the operation of chopsticks with a single actuator. The kinematic solution to deal with this unique mechanism was also provided in this work. The feasibility and the effectiveness of the proposed system have been verified after integrating it with MAR by a series of experiments.

Keyword : Chopsticks, end-effector, integrated spoon-chopsticks mechanism, meal assistant robots, spoon.

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