The Personal Mobility and Manipulation Appliance (PerMMA)

The Personal Mobility and Manipulation Appliance (PerMMA) is the first fully robotic mobility and manipulation device for people with disabilities. It provides bi-manual (two-arm) coordinated manipulation as well as fluid mobility. PerMMA uses a novel track mechanism to allow position of the arms with respect to the base, and fullseat functions. The innovative user interface allows the entire system to be controlled by the user in PerMMA for autonomous functions, for remote operation by an assistant via the internet, or any combination of the above.

PerMMA is designed to accommodate a wide variety of custom and off-the-shelf interfaces to make it useable by a wide variety of people with disabilities. Power wheelchair users, personal care assistants, and seating and mobility clinicians were part of the design team from the beginning. The biggest challenges have been to make the system usable in the real world that is unstructured, varied, and complex, as well as to make PerMMA safe, reliable, and useful. Although it is still a research device, it has been evaluated by 15 electric powered wheelchair users, and their responses were quite positive.

PerMMA was the "centerfold" for the August 2010 issue of Popular Science.

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