A Workshop on

Keynote Speakers

Prof. Robert Riener
ETH, Zurich, Switzerland
“Title: Concept of a Novel Soft Wearable Robot for Gait Rehabilitation”
Abstract: Current lower-limb exoskeletons for gait assistance are still too bulky, too heavy and, thus, too inconvenient to use, which leads to unsatisfactory performance and discomfort. The goal of this project is to develop a novel wearable exoskeleton that is based on “soft actuator” and “soft control” principles in order to overcome the current disadvantages. The novel system is dedicated to the assistance of humans with limited leg torques, such as incomplete SCI patients, stroke patients, and elderly. For more information, please see the attached document: Abstract

Prof. Dirk Lefeber
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussel, Belgium
“Title: On the use of adaptable compliant actuators in prosthetics, rehabilitation and assistive robotics”
Abstract: New robotic technologies are unable to compensate for the many drawbacks that come along with conventional electrical actuators, like high-reflected inertia, high stiffness, low force-to-weight ratio. These new robotic applications can strongly benefit from compliant actuator technology. Instead of introducing compliance on the control level, this approach is based on the use of inherent adaptable compliance on a purely mechanical level. In this way intrinsic compliance is assured at all time, enhancing system safety. The added mechanical complexity is easily countered with the range of potential benefits, such as energy efficiency and safety, adding value to existing applications and also creating new applications in robotics. The use of adaptable compliant actuators in applications as prosthetics, rehabilitation and assistive robotics is discussed in view of control, efficiency and safety.

Prof. Herman van der Kooij
University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands
Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
“Title: Wearable exoskeletons to reduce human effort in walking”
Abstract: This presentation gives an overview of attempts to reduce human effort during walking by wearable exoskeletons. From theoretical models of human gait, a significant reduction in metabolic cost of walking is predicted by wearing exoskeletons that generate partly those joint torques that are needed to walk. Wearable exoskeletons for the whole leg or specific joints have been developed and can be classified in passive, semi-active, and active devices. For the devices that have been thoroughly evaluated it turns out that reduction of metabolic cost is extremely difficult to achieve, and not achieved yet for devices that are fully wearable and autonomous. In the presentation we will also discuss in detail the design of passive and active exoskeletons developed and evaluated by Delft University of Technology and the University of Twente. For more information, please see the attached document: Abstract

Prof. Dino Accoto
Università Campus Biomedico di Roma, Rome, Italy
“Title: LENAR: a non-anthropomorphic powered orthosis for gait rehabilitation and assistance”
Abstract: A novel treadmill-based wearable robot for the assistance of knee flexion/extension motion was developed. Its non-anthropomorphic structure provides better robustness to misalignments, simpler wearing procedure and dynamic advantages. For more information, please see the attached document: Abstract

Prof. Thomas Schauer
Technische Universtät Berlin, Berlin, Germany
“Title: Sensor and Control Concepts for Neuro-Interface Prosthetic Devices”
Abstract: The restoration of complex, physiological movements, especially for the upper limbs, by means of Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) in neuro-interface prosthetic devices is still limited by the almost unpredictable, nonlinear and time-varying nature of artificial muscle activation. In the past, an increased effort in personalised modelling of the musculoskeletal model was expended in order to tackle this problem. However, such procedures are usually time-consuming and therefore not practicable in daily life. This lecture discusses new control concepts for movement control that use cascaded control schemes based on FES-evoked EMG and/or acceleration recordings. Both allow a rapid assessment of FES-induced muscle contraction. A fast inner control loop based on this information directly controls the amount of contraction (torque/force). For antagonistic muscle pairs, the vaguely known input nonlinearity (dead-zone) is approximately linearised by this approach without the need of extended system identification. Even a precise control of muscle co-contractions can be achieved when EMG measurements are used for feedback control. The control design will be discussed in detail and illustrated for the generation of arm/shoulder movements. For more information, please see the attached document: Abstract

Dr. Jan Veneman
Tecnalia, Spain
“Title: BALANCE: Supporting postural balance through an exoskeleton”
Abstract: In this talk we will summarize the basic content and progress of the BALANCE research project. The goal of this project is to realize a legs exoskeleton robot that improves the balance performance of humans, targeted at users facing balance-challenging conditions or suffering from a lack of ability to walk or maintain balance during walking. The proposed exoskeleton will know the difference between the onset of a fall and an intentional change of walking pattern, such as a turn, or a step/stair and only when necessary will it act to maintain postural balance. The proposed exoskeleton is human-cooperative in the sense that the control of the exoskeleton is complementary to the remaining human control. Depending on application it can either assist only in difficult conditions or in case of erroneous behavior of the user, or can assist the user maximally. Supported tasks are functional standing and walking, in a clinical, real-life or work environment, including specific actions like turning or stepping on or off an elevation. For more information, please see the attached document: Abstract

Dr. Thierry Keller
Tecnalia, Spain
“Title: Transcutaneous neuroprostheses for hybrid robotic applications”
Abstract: Transcutaneous neuroprostheses for hand grasp or walking complement robotic technology for neurorehabilitation in two main aspects: They provide muscular activation and afferent sensory input even in subjects with complete paralysis. Current challenges of a hybrid FES/Robotic approach lie on the shared physical human-machine interface (shared attachment points) and on the synergistic control. The main objective of the presentation is to outline the main requirements, provide details about the chosen control concepts and to present first results of the performance of the newly developed FES arrays and stimulation hardware in upper and lower extremity applications. The combination of an exoskeleton with the new FES array technology is currently undergoing first clinical trials in a national project Hyper.

Prof. Sehoon Oh
Sogang University, Seoul, Korea
“Title: Realization of desired impedance in robotic applications through position feedback control”
Abstract: The concept of variable stiffness or variable impedance is now attracting a lot of attention as it plays a significant role in the interaction between humans and robots. There can be diverse approaches to achieve variable impedance in robotic applications such as the development of actual mechanism that can change the impedance of an actuation system physically and impedance controllers that utilize force measurement to change the impedance. In this talk, a methodology to realize the variable stiffness using only the position information of a motor is introduced. Since the control algorithms introduced in this talk does not require any specific mechanism or force sensors, they can be applied to the conventional actuation systems that have motors and encoders. Force Sensor-less Power Assistive Control (FSPAC) and Frequency-Shaped Impedance Control (FSIC) are introduced as the control algorithms to achieve the desired impedance without using force sensors, and the stability and performance of the algorithms are presented with application examples. Instantaneous Speed Observer (ISO) is also introduced as a state estimation algorithm to estimate external force using encoders.

Prof. Kyoungchul Kong
Sogang University, Seoul, Korea
“Title: Control Methods and Controller Structures for Assisting Humans by Robots”
Abstract: Various control methods have been investigated for the natural assistance of human motions by robots. For example, impedance control and compliance control are widely used for controlling interaction forces between a human and a robot. When an accurate measurement of the human muscular force is available, a direct use of the estimated human joint torque is possible in the control of an assistive robot. The human motions in a daily living, however, are so complex that they are constituted by multiple phases, such as walking, sitting, standing, etc, where the walking can be further categorized into multiple sub-phases. Therefore, a single control method cannot be the best option for all the motion phases; a switch in the control algorithms may be necessary for assisting the motions in multiple motion phases. In this talk, various control methods for assisting humans and a generalized control framework are introduced. In particular, the proposed generalized control framework enables the continuous and smooth switching of assistive control algorithms, and makes it possible to analyze the stability of the overall control loop.

Prof. Conor Walsh
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, USA
“Title: Next generation soft wearable robots”
Abstract: Next generation wearable robots will use soft materials such as textiles and elastomers to provide a more conformal, unobtrusive and compliant means to interface to the human body. These robots will augment the capabilities of healthy individuals (e.g. improved walking efficiency) in addition to assisting patients who suffer from physical or neurological disorders. This talk will focus on a soft exosuit that can apply assistive joint torques to synergistically propel the wearer forward and provide support to minimize loading on the musculoskeletal system. The exosuit consists of a cable-actuated multi-articular textile that interfaces to the wearer at the pelvis, leg and foot. The architecture of the suit is such that it mimics the underlying function of the muscles at the hip and ankle and generates forces through a combination of passive and active tensioning. The exosuit does not contain any rigid elements supporting compressive loads, so the wearer's bone structure must sustain all the compressive forces normally encountered by the body plus the forces generated by the suit. Unlike traditional exoskeletons which contain rigid framing elements, the soft exosuit is worn like clothing, yet can generate significant moments at the ankle and hip to assist with walking. Future versions of the exosuit will monitor the 3D kinematics and kinetics of the wearer using soft stretchable sensors that do not interfere with the natural mechanics of motion. Advantages of the suit over traditional exoskeletons are that the wearer's joints are unconstrained by external rigid structures, and the worn part of the suit is extremely light, which minimizes the suit's unintentional interference with the body's natural biomechanics. Previous research studies on human-robot interaction and biomechanics have largely been performed with rigid exoskeletons that add significant inertia to the lower extremities and provide constraints to the wearer’s natural kinematics in both actuated and non-actuated degrees of freedom. Actuated lightweight soft exosuits minimize these effects and provide a unique opportunity to study human-robot interaction in wearable systems without affecting the subjects underlying natural dynamics. For more information, please see the attached document: Abstract

Prof. José L. Pons
CSIC, Spain
“Title: Wearable LL robots for functional compensation and gait training: application scenarios”
Abstract: Wearable exoskeletal robotics can play a role in rehabilitation and functional compensation in a number of neurological conditions, e.g. hemiplegia post stroke, paraplegia or quadriplegia post SCI, which lead to sever motor impairments. However, in general, the musculoskeletal system after the insult is preserved and Motor Neuroprostheses (MNPs) can also be considered as valid technologies for rehabilitation and functional compensation. In view of the pros and cons of both technologies, our current approach at the Bioengineering Group of CSIC is to study the combination of neurorobots (NRs) and motor neuroprostheses for rehabilitation and functional compensation of motor disorders of neurological origin. In this talk, the framework for applying wearable LL robots (in con¡mbination with Neural prosthetics) for motor substitution and training at CSIC will be reviewed and several application scenarios briefly described.