From Kinematic to Energetic Control of Wearable Robots for Agile Human Locomotion
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Even with the help of modern prosthetic and orthotic (P&O) devices, lower-limb amputees and stroke survivors often struggle to walk in the home and community. Emerging powered P&O devices could actively assist patients to enable greater mobility, but these devices are currently designed to produce a small set of pre-defined motions. Finite state machines are typically used to switch controllers between discrete phases of the gait cycle, e.g., heel contact vs. toe contact, and between different tasks, e.g., uphill vs. downhill. However, this discrete methodology cannot continuously synchronize the robot's motion to the timing or activity of the human user. This talk will first present a continuous parameterization of human joint kinematics based on 1) a phase variable that robustly represents the timing of the human gait cycle, and 2) task variables representing ground slope and walking speed. This parameterization is employed for user-synchronized control of a powered knee-ankle prosthesis, which enables above-knee amputee subjects to walk at variable speeds/inclines and perform volitional activities like kicking a ball. While this approach controls kinematics in the absence of human joint motion, a kinematic-free approach is desirable for exoskeletons that assist or enhance existing joint motion. The second part of this talk will introduce an energetic control paradigm for exoskeletons to alter the human body's dynamics without prescribing joint kinematics, e.g., reducing the perceived weight and inertia of the limbs. This control approach is implemented on exoskeletons with high-torque, low-impedance actuators, which provide the necessary backdrivability for volitional human control.
Robert D. Gregg IV received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering and computer sciences from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007 and 2010, respectively. He joined the Departments of Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) as an Assistant Professor in June 2013 with an adjunct appointment at the UT Southwestern Medical Center. Prior to joining UTD, he was a Research Scientist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and a Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University. His research concerns the control mechanisms of bipedal locomotion with application to wearable control systems, including prostheses and orthoses. Dr. Gregg is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, the NIH Director's New Innovator Award, and the Career Award at the Scientific Interface from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Dr. Gregg is a Senior Member of the IEEE Control Systems Society and the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society.