[robotics-worldwide] [meetings] ICRA 2018 workshop Soft Robotics for Rehabilitation Applications: Design, Material and Control

Nafis Ebrahimi nfs.ebrahimi4184 at gmail.com
Sun Mar 4 22:11:11 PST 2018


Advanced Robotic Manipulators (ARM) lab at University of Texas at San
Antonio will organize:

ICRA 2018 workshop
Soft Robotics for Rehabilitation Applications: 
Design, Material and Control

The current robotic rehabilitation systems are powerful and active but
usually bulky and made of rigid elements, such as exoskeletons. This prevent
fully exploiting the use of robotic systems in rehabilitation applications
and sometime can even present danger to the patients.  Indeed, to guarantee
safety of the human in any direct physical interaction, the softness should
be intrinsic to the robot’s structure. The emerging field of soft robotics
will present the foundation of future robotic systems with plethora of
applications in human-robot interaction, locomotion, and especially in
rehabilitation technologies.
Soft robotic systems have the potential of changing the lingering status-quo
of bulky robotics, since they can easily deform and adapt to dynamic
environments and human body.
However, the design of rehabilitation devices that are soft, light, wearable
and powerful is a grand challenge. The new field of soft robotics, required
substantially different design, material development and control approaches
to deal with continues deformable body of these platforms in interaction
with humans. This workshop will bring together globally recognized
robotistics, material scientists and control engineers to discuss practical
applications of soft robotics in robotic application from different
perspectives of material, design and control. 

Invited Speakers
1- Neville Hogan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,  
Challenges and opportunities of soft robotics for rehabilitation:
        Robotic assistance to recover after neurological injury depends
critically on the robot’s ability to provide
permissive-assistance-as-needed. Soft human-interactive robotics promise
unprecedented ability to provide this capability while simultaneously
accommodating the kinematic peculiarities of the human skeleton. However,
this technology has drawbacks as well as advantages in this application
arena. This presentation will show that, at least for lower-extremity
rehabilitation after stroke, technology should reduce joint mechanical
impedance rather than enhance it. This may be a challenge for many soft
robotic actuator designs, which tend to increase mechanical impedance.
Possible advantages of antagonistic tensile actuator designs, which may act
to reduce mechanical impedance, will be reviewed. Conversely, the ability of
soft robotics to selectively increase the mechanical impedance of individual
joints may afford new approaches to therapy. It may provide a means to
resolve the abnormal kinematic synergies that commonly accompany the
abnormal muscle tone patterns resulting from neurological injury.

2- Carmel Majidi, Carnegie Mellon University
Cutting the Cord – Integrated Sensing, Actuation, and Robust Electronics for
Soft Robot Autonomy
        Progress in soft lithography, additive manufacturing, biohybrid
engineering, and soft materials integration have lead to extraordinary new
classes of soft-matter sensors, circuits, and actuators.  These materials
represent the building blocks of soft machines, robots, and bio-inspired
systems that will exhibit the rich multifunctional versatility and robust
adaptability of soft biological organisms.  While there are key challenges
in materials and manufacturing that remain to be addressed, further progress
in soft robotics now depends on accomplishing a new set of goals: 
systems-level materials integration, untethered functionality, and robot
autonomy.  In this talk, I will focus on this latter set of challenges and
the new fundamental questions that emerge when exploring the interface of
soft multifunctional materials, rigid microelectronics, and robot mobility. 
In particular, I will report efforts by my lab to create an untethered soft
robot capable of walking in a variety of environments, including rocky
terrain and confined spaces.  I’ll also present recent work on mechanically
robust and self-healing electronics that can withstand extreme loading and
damage.  When used as internal circuit wiring within an electrically-powered
soft robot, such materials enable autonomous response to tearing,
puncturing, or material removal – damage modes that would be catastrophic
for most other soft-bodied robots.  I will close by highlighting ongoing
efforts to create new computational tools for modeling the motion and
surface interactions of limbed soft robots.  Based on continuum mechanics,
finite element analysis, and emerging techniques in computer graphics, these
tools represent another critical requirement for soft robot autonomy by
potentially enabling on-board computational intelligence and adaptive
decision making.

3- Amir Jafari, University of Texas at San Antonio
Bilaterally adjusting the surface stiffness, a new rehabilitation approach 
        Surface  stiffness  plays  an  important  role  in  human locomotion
mechanics. This would affect both the energy expenditure  and  gait  of  the 
human.  This  work  presents  the  design and  development  of  a  novel 
Treadmill  with  adjustable  stiffness (TwAS) with the Ability to Regulate
the Vertical Stiffness of the Ground. The novelty of the system is on its
stiffness adjustment mechanism  which  allows  for  vertical  stiffness  of 
the  surface  to change  quickly  (less  than  0.5  second)  from  almost
completely  passive to  the structural  stiffness of the system,  with 
minimum  energy  consumption, independent of the location of the person over
the treadmill. The design  also  allows  for  bilateral  surface  stiffness 
regulation  (i.e. both  legs,  independently)  that  is  an  extremely 
helpful  criterion in  studying  the  locomotion  mechanics  and  eventually 
gaining valuable  insights  into  best  rehabilitation  strategies  of 
mobility impaired   patients.   In   order   to   show   the   proof   of  
concept, we  present  experiments  to  show  the  effect  of  surface 
stiffness regulation  on  the  metabolic  cost  and  gait  of  a  healthy 

4- Houman Dallali, California State University

Locomotion Envelopes for Adaptive Control of Powered Ankle Prostheses
         In this presentation we combine Gaussian process regression and
impedance control, to illicit robust, anthropomorphic, adaptive control of a
powered ankle prosthesis. We learn the non-linear manifolds which guide how
locomotion variables temporally evolve, and regress that surface over a
velocity range to create a manifold. The joint set of manifolds, as well as
the temporal evolution of the gait-cycle duration is what we term
a locomotion envelope. Current powered prostheses have problems adapting
across speeds. It is likely that humans rely upon a control strategy which
is adaptable, can become more robust and accurate with more data and
provides a nonparametric approach which allows the strategy to grow with the
number of observations. We demonstrate such a strategy in this study and
successfully simulate locomotion well beyond our training data. The method
we propose is based on common physical features observed in numerous human
subjects walking at different speeds. Based on the derived locomotion
envelopes we show that ankle power increases monotonically with speed among
all subjects. We demonstrate our methods in simulation and human
experiments, on a powered ankle foot prosthesis to demonstrate the
effectiveness of the method.
5- Fumiya Iida, University of Cambridge, 

6- Ahmad Taha, University of Texas at San Antonio
Time-Varying Actuator Selection and Robust Control Methods for Dynamic
Systems with Applications to Soft Robotics
                Many dynamic systems such as soft robotics include a large
number of actuators. Recently, various studies have shown that these systems
can be actuated with a subset of the available actuators, while still
producing reasonable energy performance and robustness guarantees. In short,
control algorithms can be developed to minimize the number of activated
actuators while not incurring large control inputs. In this talk, the
speaker presents new optimization-based methods that simultaneously solve
for (a) the time-varying selection of actuators and (b) state-feedback
control laws for the activated actuators. The methods are developed linear
systems with unknown disturbances. The combinatorial nature of actuator
selection methods often entails solving highly nonconvex optimization
routines. To that end, convex relaxations and approximations are discussed
to ensure scalability of the proposed methods. The developed approach is
then applied to the control of artificial muscles with electromagnetic soft
actuators. A mathematical model depicting the dynamic network of artificial
muscles network is derived given unknown disturbances due to external forces
and linearization errors. Then, a robust control and minimal actuator
selection problem with logistic constraints and maximum voltage bounds is
solved. Numerical tests are finally presented showcasing the presented
computational approach. 

Call for Papers
Contribution following the IEEE RAS paper template for addressing one of the
workshop topics.
An accompanying video is optional and can also be provided as a weblink
(e.g., youtube).
All contributions must be sent as a pdf file to
Accepted contributions will be allocated in Soft Robotics for Rehabilitation
book that will be published by Elsevier.

Important Dates
        Submission Deadline: March 25st, 2018
        Acceptance Notification: April 15th, 2018

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