Outline and Scope

The development of ‘Wearable Robotics’ addresses one of the main challenges of an aging society: a loss of mobility and physical ability in general. If the workforce can be supported to perform physical work until an older age while preventing musculoskeletal disorders, or if the elderly can remain mobile later in life and avoid a sedentary lifestyle, or if better rehabilitation of motor abilities after neurological damage can be achieved; each of these effects would constitute a huge socioeconomic impact based on societal inclusion and general health and productivity of the population.

The adoption of novel active wearable robotic devices, either for worker support, daily assistance or clinical rehabilitation, requires new approaches to ultimately enable efficient treatments and better facilitation of movement for individuals who perform physical labor or face a loss of their motor abilities. In particular, since these devices interact directly with humans, there are major challenges in their design and adoption, related to user acceptance, effectiveness, safety and functionality. Thus, there is a need to consider and integrate relevant knowledge from complementary disciplines such as mechatronic design, neuronal sciences, human-centered design, computer science, biomechanics, neuroscience, and psychology, among others. Integration of specific knowledge from such disciplines will enable to design the wearable devices as a natural extension and support of the human body. This is a fundamental requirement for larger adoption of such systems.

This session is primarily addressed at young researchers (PhD and advanced Master students), advanced researchers and professionals interested in Wearable Robotics for Assistive, Rehabilitation and Worker-support applications and in new perspectives in this field. The workshop provides a unique opportunity for faculty, students, industry and the general public to come together and learn about the latest advances in these fields of wearable robotics. The idea is to discuss current needs and future directions in an interdisciplinary fashion including industrial and medical end-users or application specialists, robotics engineers, human robot interaction scientists, as well as human factors and ELS specialists. The participants will get in touch with other colleagues in the field and they will have the opportunity to improve their knowledge through the presented talks.

The workshop is organized in collaboration with the recently started COST Action Network, CA16116 – Wearable Robots for Augmentation, Assistance or Substitution of Human Motor Functions. More information can be found on the Action website (http://wearablerobots.eu/) and on this section of this website.


Submission of Papers

Authors are invited to submit their full draft papers to this Special Session, in PDF format and up to a maximum of 8 pages, using the URL (https://www.softconf.com/g/clawar2017).

Authors should follow the guidelines of the template available at the paper submission page of the conference web-site by the indicated deadline in the conference web page.


Invited Speakers

Francesco Bottiglione (Polytechnic University of Bari)
Title: Energy recovering actuators to improve the range, the efficiency and the portability: old tricks for future applications
Abstract: Wearable robots for lower limbs aspire to become portable devices helping disabled people in the everyday life. In the meanwhile, a lot of work is still to be done on the actuators side to achieve the optimal tradeoff between the availability of powerful and long-ranged devices and their portability. The characteristics of lower limb movements are not the ideal ones for the commonly adopted electric drives. Firstly, they do not allow the actuators to work continuously in their optimal operating conditions. Furthermore, peak torque and power requested are much larger than the average ones. For these reasons, it is commonly necessary to oversize and to overweight the batteries and the actuators with respect to their actual usage, leading to drawbacks in terms of portability. In principle, all those everyday actions characterized by a periodic repeatability – walking above all – offer the chance to implement some old smart strategies to drastically reduce the energy requirements and the size of the motors. Periodic motions are indeed characterized by “active” phases, when energy must be provided by the actuator to the user side, followed by “passive” phases, when the energy must flow in the opposite way. An actuator capable of recovering and storing the energy in the passive phases and to re-use such energy in the active phases would consume much less energy and stress the motor only with the average values of requested power. An actuator capable of doing such a thing mechanically, would do it efficiently. Several possible technical solutions have been and are being developed and will be briefly summarized. The ones based on kinetic energy accumulation and continuously-variable-transmission-driven power flow will be discussed in depth.


Carlos A. Cifuentes (Colombian School of Engineering Julio Garavito)
Title: Bio-inspired lower-limb exoskeletons for gait assistance and rehabilitation
Abstract: Exoskeletons are becoming one of the most promising devices to improve the quality of life to injured patients to regain the ability to walk. Bioinspired designs in exoskeletons could increase adaptability as well as minimal interference to perform gait movements. This talk presents some remarks of bioinspired exoskeleton for enhanced physical interaction during gait assistance and rehabilitation, which are based on the motion analysis model, taking into account bioinspired design criteria, and also concepts of wearable robots.


Nina Lefeber (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
Title: Robot-Assisted Gait: What About the Cardiometabolic Load?
Abstract: Lately, robot technology is being increasingly implemented in the gait rehabilitation of neurological patients (e.g. stroke patients). The aim of this development has been to reduce the physical load of the therapist and increase the training duration and intensity of the patient. In the past, research on the effects of robot-assistance has been mainly focused on gait related parameters. Yet, little is known about the effects of the cardiometabolic load (e.g. energy consumption, heart rate or minute ventilation). Nevertheless, neurological patients are often confronted with impaired cardiorespiratory fitness, which is a major risk factor in the development of cardiovascular diseases. Hence, it is important to gain insight in these aspects – both for safety as well as training related aspects. Numerous characteristics (e.g. type of robot, level of assistance, speed and duration of walking, disease severity or stage of rehabilitation) however, complicate the estimates of the cardiometabolic load during robot-assisted gait. This presentation will review the current literature on cardiometabolic load during robot-assisted gait as well as preliminary results of own work in stroke patients. Particular gaps that still need to be targeted in the future will be highlighted.


Eduardo Rocon (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas)
Title: Robotic platform for the Rehabilitation of children with Cerebral Palsy: CPWalker
Abstract: Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the most common cause of permanent physical disability in childhood. CP is a disorder of posture and movement due to a defect or lesion in the immature brain. CP is often associated with sensory deficits, cognition impairments, communication and motor disabilities, behavior issues, seizure disorder, pain and secondary musculoskeletal problems. New strategies are needed to help to promote, maintain, and rehabilitate the functional capacity, and thereby diminish the dedication and assistance required and the economical demands that this condition represents for the patient, the caregivers, and the society. During this talk, I will present a pilot study done with several children with spastic CP, who trained with a new robotic platform called CPWalker during five weeks. This experimental device is a novel over ground prototype for gait rehabilitation with body weight support for children with CP. After rehabilitation training, both patients improved the mean velocity, cadence, and step length. Moreover, the comparison between pre and post- kinematics analysis without the robot shows specific developments for each subject depending on the focus of the therapy (mainly trunk or hip flexion-extension).


Herman van der Kooij (University of Twente)
Title: Rendering lower limb neuro-mechanics in a wearable exoskeleton for SCI subjects
Abstract: Current exoskeletons replay pre-programmed trajectories at the actuated joints. To allow spinal cord injury (SCI) subjects to walk again, ultimately without additional support aids, we aim to emulate the neuro-mechanics of the limbs in a modular torque controlled wearable exoskeleton. We employed a biologically inspired neuromuscular controller (NMC). This model encodes principles of legged mechanics through several local reflex loops that activate depending on leg-ground contact state. While the NMC has been implemented in a powered ankle prosthesis and shown to normalize gait for transtibial amputee subjects, these controllers have not yet been implemented in multi-dof devices that support locomotion. Our aim is two-fold. First, we further validate and refine the NMC in the context of force perturbations, and second, we determine its efficacy for the control of wearable exoskeletons, in particular, those that allow SCI subjects to walk again.


Session Organisers

Cristina P Santos
Escola de Engenharia da Universidade do Minho, PORTUGAL
Contact Email: cristina@dei.uminho.pt

Juan C. Moreno
Neural Rehabilitation Group, SPAIN
Contact Email: jc.moreno@csic.es


CLAWAR 2017 Conference Key Submission Dates:

01 20 February 2017: Submission of Full Draft Papers (extended)

15 March 2017: Notification of Paper Acceptance

12 April 2017: Submission of Final (accepted) Papers