Intuitive wireless control of a robotic arm for people living with an upper body disability.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc, Volume 2015, p.4399-402 (2015)


Algorithms, Arm, Disabled Persons, Humans, Robotic Surgical Procedures, Self-Help Devices, User-Computer Interface, Wireless Technology


<p>Assistive Technologies (ATs) also called extrinsic enablers are useful tools for people living with various disabilities. The key points when designing such useful devices not only concern their intended goal, but also the most suitable human-machine interface (HMI) that should be provided to users. This paper describes the design of a highly intuitive wireless controller for people living with upper body disabilities with a residual or complete control of their neck and their shoulders. Tested with JACO, a six-degree-of-freedom (6-DOF) assistive robotic arm with 3 flexible fingers on its end-effector, the system described in this article is made of low-cost commercial off-the-shelf components and allows a full emulation of JACO's standard controller, a 3 axis joystick with 7 user buttons. To do so, three nine-degree-of-freedom (9-DOF) inertial measurement units (IMUs) are connected to a microcontroller and help measuring the user's head and shoulders position, using a complementary filter approach. The results are then transmitted to a base-station via a 2.4-GHz low-power wireless transceiver and interpreted by the control algorithm running on a PC host. A dedicated software interface allows the user to quickly calibrate the controller, and translates the information into suitable commands for JACO. The proposed controller is thoroughly described, from the electronic design to implemented algorithms and user interfaces. Its performance and future improvements are discussed as well.</p>

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