Quantitative and Qualitative Evaluation of Exoskeleton Transparency Controllers for Upper-Limb Neurorehabilitation

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High transparency is a fundamental requirement for upper-limb exoskeletons to promote active patient participation. Although various control strategies have been suggested to improve the transparency of these robots, there are still some limitations, such as the need for precise dynamic models and potential safety issues when external forces are applied to the robot. This study presents a novel hybrid controller designed to tackle these limitations by combining a traditional zero-torque controller with an interaction torque observer that compensates for residual undesired disturbances. The transparency of the proposed controller was evaluated using both quantitative-e.g., residual joint torques and movement smoothness-and qualitative measures-e.g., comfort, agency, and perceived resistance-in a pilot study with six healthy participants. The performance of the new controller was compared to that of two conventional controllers: a zero-torque closed-loop controller and a velocity-based disturbance observer. Our preliminary results show that the proposed hybrid controller may be a good alternative to state-of-the-art controllers as it allows participants to perform precise and smooth movements with low interaction joint torques. Importantly, participants rated the new controller higher in comfort and agency, and lower in perceived resistance. This study highlights the importance of incorporating both quantitative and qualitative assessments in evaluating control strategies developed to enhance the transparency of rehabilitation robots.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2023 International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR)
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)979-8-3503-4275-8
ISBN (Print)979-8-3503-4276-5
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event2023 International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR) - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: 24 Sept 202328 Sept 2023


Conference2023 International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR)

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