A Workshop on

Keynote Speakers

Prof. Robert Riener
ETH, Zurich, Switzerland
“Title: The Cybathlon: Lessons Learned and Future Challenges”
Abstract: The Cybathlon is a new kind of championship, where people with physical disabilities compete against each other at tasks of daily life, with the aid of advanced assistive devices including robotic technologies. The first championship did take place at the Swiss Arena Kloten, Zurich, on 8 October 2016. Six disciplines were part of the competition comprising races with powered leg prostheses, powered arm prostheses, functional electrical stimulation driven bikes, powered wheelchairs, powered exoskeletons and brain-computer interfaces. In this talk I will describe the Cybathlon event including its six disciplines, the lessons learned from it and the next events being planned. I will show, how the Cybathlon does promote the development of useful technologies that facilitate the lives of people with disabilities, and how the developed devices will become affordable and functional for all relevant activities in daily life. I will also mention the new discussion culture that did arise about people with disabilities, inclusion as well as physical and mental barriers that are still present in our environment and society, respectively.

Prof. Herman van der Kooij
University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands
Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

“Title: Hybrid (de)centralised control of (wearable) exoskeletons”
Abstract: The advantages of biological inspired decentralised neuro-muscular controllers (NMC) as original proposed by Geyer et al, are that they adapt to different environments and walking speeds without the need to pre-program individual joint trajectories. The disadvantages of NMC are that it does not bound joint motions and thus do not guarantee safety for the users and that they need the proper initial states or require an external periodic input. To overcome the limitations of NMC we propose a hybrid approach where desired joint angles are programmed as function of the gait cycle, which were used to create a haptic tunnel. Within the tunnel the NMC is active. The walls of this tunnel were implemented with a virtual stiffness and damping. The width of the tunnel and its haptic properties can be tuned as function of the gait cycle for each individual joint. This hybrid approach we successfully tested in our haptic gait trainer LOPES II and in the Symbitron wearable exoskeleton that has eight actuated degrees of freedom and was developed for SCI subjects.

Prof. José L. PONS
CSIC, Spain
“Title: Why using robots for rehabilitation? Principles, evidence and prospects”
Abstract: In rehabilitation after neurological conditions, therapies target functional recovery or seek motor adaptations that result in functional independence. Robots have been proposed as tools to complement traditional therapies during several decades but it is not fully understood under what specific conditions and under what motor recovery principles they can be more effective in improving functional outcomes. This talk will review these principles, elaborate on existing evidence and propose potential future directions for an efficient use of robotics in the field of Neurorehabilitation.

Prof. Sunil Agrawal
Columbia University, USA
“Title: Robotics to Restore and Retrain Human Movements: Controlling Forces at the Pelvis”
Abstract: Neural disorders limit the ability of humans to perform activities of daily living. Robotics can be used to probe the human neuromuscular system and create new pathways to relearn, restore, and improve functional movements. Dr. Agrawal’s group at Columbia University Robotics and Rehabilitation (ROAR) Laboratory has designed innovative robots for this purpose and tested these on human subjects. Human experiments have targeted patients with stroke, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, Vestibular disorders, elderly subjects and others. The talk will provide an overview of some of these scientific studies.

Dr. Kirby Ann Witte
Carnegie Mellon University
“Title: Progress in human-in-the-loop optimization of exoskeleton assistance”
Abstract: Exoskeletons promise to improve the lives of people with disabilities either by acting as rehabilitative tools or by improving performance in daily activities. Progress in exoskeleton development has been rapid in the last several years, but it is still difficult to determine how device hardware and control settings should be adjusted to fit individual needs. In this talk we will discuss an approach to address this problem which utilizes a highly flexible exoskeleton emulator system and human-in-the-loop optimization. We will cover guiding principles of design for exoskeleton emulators, human in the loop optimization, and the results of three separate experiments using these tools to optimize several different high level controllers for both walking and running. We expect tools and methods such as those explored in these experiments to improve the use, design, and prescription of assistive devices from exoskeletons to orthoses and prostheses.

Prof. Conor J. Walsh
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, USA
“Title: Human-in-the-loop development of soft wearable robots for the home and community”
Abstract: It is exciting to imagine a future when we can use wearable robots to increase strength or efficiency, restore or repair ability after injury or prevent injuries from happening in the first place. This vision is currently challenging to achieve due to limitations in current technology and a lack of understanding of how humans will respond to physical assistance. This talk will give an overview of how we have taken a human in the loop approach to guide the development of autonomous soft exosuits. The talk will also share recent results from studies with a number of autonomous systems demonstrating augmented walking and running in healthy individuals and improvements in walking for patients poststroke. Additionally, the talk will speak to some more recent efforts on creating textile-based inflatable robots to assist the upper extremity for those with physical impairments.

Dr. Matei Ciocarlie
Columbia University, USA
“Title: MyHand: a Wearable Hand Orthosis for Stroke Patients”
Abstract: The MyHand project, a collaboration between Columbia University’s Mechanical Engineering and Rehabilitation Medicine departments, aims to develop a robotic hand orthosis that can restore manipulation capabilities lost as a result of stroke. The critical challenges for achieving this vision lie at the physical and informational interfaces between the patient and the robotic device. In particular, such an orthosis must enable meaningful hand postures for manipulation while overcoming spasticity and other abnormal synergies commonly encountered after stroke. Furthermore, in order to be wearable in a functional context, an assistive device also needs intuitive, user-driven controls, applicable even with the wide range of impairments that can be encountered in the user population. This talk will cover our work in all of these areas, including advances made and new challenges discovered, from hardware and mechanism design to user-driven operation.

Dr., Ing. Massimo Di Pardo
Centro Ricerche Fiat, Italy
“Title: The methodological approach adopted by CRF for the experimentation of wearable robots in the automotive sector”
Abstract: Recently the industry is interested in appropriately using exoskeletons in the workplace, in certain tasks, to help overloaded body segments or to support working tools. In this context, a benchmark of commercially available or prototype devices was carried out, and then a methodology for the objective evaluation of exoskeletons for industrial applications was developed. The methodology, focuses on the evaluation of the usability of the exoskeleton (in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction) as well as its acceptability and applicability in real workstations.

Dr. Freygardur Thorsteinsson
Össur, Iceland
“Title: Challenges and trends in medical device wearable robotics”
Abstract: This presentation will discuss the challenges of bringing a wearable robotic device to the medical device market. The medical device market is governed by a set of regulations that are intended to ensure safety and function of the devices. The requirements in these regulations need to be addressed in development of medical devices and ways to ensure compliance will be discussed.

Prof. Dirk Lefeber
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussel, Belgium
“Title: Compliant actuation principles for rehabilitation and assistive robots”
Abstract: Rehabilitation and assistive robots require new approaches for the many drawbacks that come along with conventional electrical actuators, such as high-reflected inertia, high stiffness, low force-to-weight ratio, impact, energy consumption, safety. These new robotic applications can strongly benefit from adaptable compliant actuator technology. Instead of introducing compliance at the control level, this approach is based on the use of inherent adaptable compliance on a purely mechanical level. In this way intrinsic compliant behavior is obtained at all time regardless of the control bandwidth, leading to increased system safety. The added mechanical complexity is easily countered with a range of potential benefits, such as energy efficiency, reduction of power requirements and intrinsic safety. The potential use of adaptable compliant actuators in applications such as prosthetics, rehabilitation and assistive robotics is discussed in view of control strategy, power reduction and energy efficiency. Special focus is put on new combinations of series and parallel arrangements of the elastic elements.

Prof. Michael Goldfarb
School of Engineering, Vanderbilt University
“Title: Exoskeleton Control Methods for Enhancing the Mobility of Poorly-Ambulatory Individuals”
Abstract: A large number of poorly-ambulatory individuals (e.g., individuals who are able to walk, but do so with substantial impairment) could potentially benefit from lower-limb exoskeletal assistance. Providing movement assistance to poorly-ambulatory individuals, however, is a challenging problem, since the exoskeleton must coordinate its actions with the user’s largely intact lower limb neuromuscular control system, which operates in parallel with the exoskeleton. In such applications, the exoskeleton should provide movement assistance along a desire movement path, yet avoid introducing balance disturbances, particularly for individuals with an existing gait impairment, who are already balance-compromised. This talk describes control methods and associated experimental results intended to provide movement assistance to poorly-ambulatory individuals, without interfering with their ability to maintain balance.

Hocoma, Switzerland
“Title: Wearable Robots for Augmentation, Assistance and Substitution of Human Motor Functions - Highlights from a COST Action”
Abstract: This presentation will summarize the structure of the COST Action CA16116, which is a pan-European network of experts to collaborate and network around topics that are relevant to the further development of Wearable Robots. The network includes scientists, researchers, developers, manufacturers, end-users, legal and ethical specialists and other stakeholders around this innovative technology. The goals and activities of the action will be summarized and the achievements of the first year in action will be presented, as well as ways to get involved. For more information see: https://wearablerobots.eu/

Dr. Lorenzo Saccares
IUVO, Italy
“Title: ”HuMan – HUman MANufacturing: Challenges and trends of wearable robotics in industry
Abstract: The aim of HuMan project is to create a healthy workplace to supports the workers’ capabilities to increase the competitiveness of the manufacturing firms through the creation of an optimal environment for human automation integration and cooperation. To this end, one of the main objective of HuMan project is to increase the wellbeing of workers through use of exoskeletons. HuMan is a EU project with 12 partners from 6 different countries. The consortium counts 3 use case companies where the advances offered by HuMan will be effectively tested. In this talk, the contribution of IUVO in HuMan will be summarized and presented. In particular, the experience matured by IUVO in the design and the experimental validation of upper-limb exoskeletons will be discussed. Finally current trends, research direction and future challenges of wearable robotics in industry will be addressed.