Robot Arm Control through Virtual Reality


As an intern at 219 design, I was tasked with coming up with a project that would bridge the gap between the virtual and real worlds. After looking into the available technologies and our client’s projects, we decided that being able to control a device in the real world through a virtual reality interface would be a powerful and useful tool. In the end, I settled on designing and building a robot arm that can be intuitively controlled through a virtual reality app as a proof of concept for that objective.



To build this system quickly and effectively I took advantage of the rapid prototyping tools and the iterative, flexible, and interdisciplinary design process that were valued at 219 Design. Mathematical modeling, MATLAB simulation, computer aided design, open source electronics hardware, 3D printing, and rapid fabrication methods were all critical to the time-effective success of this project.

robot arm calculations
Matlab was used to generate a point cloud of all possible end effector positions using the forward kinematics of the robot arm

Final Product

The end result was a virtual reality app that allowed for precise and intuitive control of a robot arm. The app allows for real time robot control, as well as allowing the user to easily record a motion path that the robot arm can later follow when commanded. In this way the user can easily “teach” the robot arm a desired behavior without any advanced programming knowledge. Recording a new behavior is as easy as pressing a record button, grabbing the robot arm end effector in VR and dragging it in 3D space.