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
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University
“Title: Progress in human-in-the-loop optimization of exoskeleton assistance”
Abstract: Exoskeletons that enhance mobility could be life-changing for many people with disabilities. Recent progress has been rapid, with some platforms beginning to demonstrate substantial improvements in performance. However, it is still difficult to identify what a device should do to benefit an individual user, particularly among people with disabilities. In this talk, we will describe an approach to the design of wearable robots based on versatile emulator systems and human-in-the-loop optimization algorithms that automatically customize assistance. We will discuss a study separating the contributions of training, customization and good generic control; new algorithms for faster training and optimization; scaling to high degree of freedom systems; and initial applications to assisting individuals with chronic stroke. We expect biomechanics-centered methods like these to continue to improve the design, prescription and use of assistive devices.

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.

Prof. Kyujin Cho
Seoul National University, Korea
“Title: Simple but functional design of soft wearable robots for the hand and upper extremity”
Abstract: TBD

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: TBD”
Abstract: TBD

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/