Video: 14-Year-Old Inventor Wins $25,000 Prize For Robotic Hand He Built For Less Than $100

Inspired by the Fukushima disaster & the need to protect first responders, Pennsylvania’s Thomas Aldous created a hand to copy movements by humans

Thomas Aldous happened upon a documentary about the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster that was caused by a tsunami along coastal Japan. What piqued his interest most about the aftermath was the robots devised to inspect the damaged radioactive reactors. 

With that in mind, the 14-year-old from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, built a robot hand controlled by a glove. “It has a lot of applications,” he says, “but primarily for search and rescue.” The user’s movements are copied to the robot intuitively. And he built it all for less than $100. (See the robot in action right here)

For his invention, he won the Samueli Foundation Prize of $25,000 at the 2022 Broadcom MASTERS, a national science and engineering competition for middle school students. He says he’ll use the prize for college tuition.

Share Thomas’s story — and check out this other recent coverage of teenagers breaking new ground in STEM: 

—Produced & Edited by Jim Fields

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