Meet Tobor, the Astonishing Robot

"Tobor" is robot spelled backwards

Myra Saturen,

Meet Tobor!  Who or what is Tobor?  The wondrous figure is a twelve-foot haptic robot arm created at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, ToborPennsylvania.  Tobor, or "robot" spelled backwards, is named for the 1954 movie Tobor the Great, which is about a robot. 

Fourteen NCC staff members conceived, engineered, and manufactured all of Tobor's parts.  They built and programmed the computers and controllers, 3-D printed a prototype, resin casted the gripper, and in all, made this machine larger than life.  All of these processes were done right in the Fab Lab

The robot has something special: haptic ability, which means that it is controlled by a glove which has movement sensors and motors.  When the person wearing the glove moves his or her hand a certain way, Tobor responds similarly.  When the person squeezes the glove, the gripper grasps an object.  In turn, the sensors in the gripper send density feedback telling the operator to squeeze softer or harder. 

Tobor's makers are now working on giving the robotic hand more dexterity through smoother motion and more human-like reactions.  They will also be adding sound.   

Since the Fab Lab opened in 2007, is has been a popular destination for NCC students, members of the community and corporate clients, who can create a prototype of a product or a product itself, avail themselves of the Fab Lab's 3-D printer, computers, hand tools, laser-cutter, milling machine, laser cutter/etchers, audio equipment, and more to create virtually any shape, prototype, or digital design.  They can also develop electronic circuitry and create products for industry or the home.  Twenty-one instructors, experts in working with wood, glass, marble, resins prosthetics, electronics, audio and CNC (computer numerical control) milling are available to help participants accomplish their goals.  Fifty-six courses are offered at the Fab Lab, including those in which students make their own acoustic and electronic guitars.  



Tobor with Jeffrey Boerner, Anthony Lucrezi, Tim Dodge, Peter Lowe and Brian Feldman.