Wearable Intertace for Teleoperation of Robot Arms - WITRA

[Update 20] The Final Submission
Update #10154  |  24 Dec 2014

Our final video

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has supported, helped, followed the project on Toradex Challenge. Each one of you is part of it! You can see below what could be accomplished up to this point of the challenge. I hope you like the video. It is divided in two main parts: the first is a explanatory part giving details about the system and development; the second shows all the tests performed and the results reached. 


What Toradex Challenge enabled

By participating on the Toradex Challenge, a new horizon was created to WITRA. The initial idea of developing a wearable interface that would make human-robot interaction more natural arose in January of 2013 when I, Vinicius Bazan, was studying as a visitor student at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. At that time, I was researching at the Mechatronics Lab and my professor, Dr. Vikram Kapila, came to me with the idea of a jacket that someone could wear and teleoperate a robot arm. We developed that idea further and created the first version of a wearable interface. However, at that point I was using Arduino microcontrollers to get data from the sensors and a PC with MATLAB to control a very small robot arm. 

Back to Brazil in August 2013, I started thinking of my senior design project and talked to Prof. Dr. Glauco Caurin, who is an expert in Manipulation Robotics and Rehabilitation Robotics. He advised me to start using a Toradex computer in module and create a newer, better version of my wearable interface, but now with a dedicated, embedded system. So that new development began. With new and better sensors and Toradex Colibri + Iris in hands, a new range of possibilities became real. 

It was quite of a journey to learn how to implement the system and to develop this wearable interface from scratch. It was, though, a breathtaking experience. I, personally, could not imagine that I would learn so much about embedded real-time systems by digging into this project. 

At this point, I can say that WITRA has become a useful and feasible system that can be applied in many situations, not only in robot teleoperation. As stated on [Update 19] How WITRA's code works, the way WITRA sends data is very transparent and thus, it can be easily readapted to work with different other systems, such as gaming, controlling mouses and PowerPoint presentations, motion capture and analisys for physiotherapy sessions, drone remote control, among many others. 

A few important results

Our other 19 updates show in details every result and goal that was achieved. I'd just like to present two more important results achieved:

  • WITRA has a positioning precision of the order of millimeters;
  • The time elapsed, in one iteration, from getting new values from the IMUs until the positioning message being received by the robot's server is around 42 miliseconds. That means that around 24 times per second a new goal position is sent to the robot and thus the motion is very fluid and in real-time. This provides the user with a very natural and intuitive experience. By the way, just for comparison, 24 times per second is also a stablished speed for frame change in movies. That is, a lot of videos we see today are in 24 frames per second, and the frame transition is very fluid and not perceptible.

Future of the project

There are so many applications that can be further developed that it is impossible to say that WITRA's development came to an end. Therefore, together with Prof. Glauco Caurin, I plan to continue the development of WITRA, in order to make it even more realiable, robust and precise. We intend to create new applications, in special we intend to use WITRA in rehabilitation robotics and physiotherapy. Imagine a patient that has any kind of problem on his/her arm due to an accident or stroke. This patient has to undertake exams that assess his/her moving capabilities. WITRA can then be used to record data about arm movement, that can be later analysed and compared to other patients. We could even think of an application in which the same patient wears an exo-skeleton and the therapist wears WITRA. Then, the therapist moves his/her arm in a desired way to stimulate the patient's arm with the exo-skeleton, which will repeat the movements of the therapist's arm. 

I truly believe that WITRA can become an interface that not only shows research results, but that can indeed be used in daily life to help people overcome difficulties in their lives. For that to happen, just a little bit of will power, support and imagination is needed. 

Final acknowledgements

Finally, I would like to thank all the institutions and people that helped me throughout the project development and competition. My special thanks to:

  • Toradex and Toradex Challenge's partners and sponsors for the opportunity, resources and space for developing something that could really improve our life experiences;
  • The Mechatronics Laboratory at the University of São Paulo (EESC) for the facilities and support;
  • All the faculty and members from the University of São Paulo;
  • Professor Dr. Glauco Caurin, who helped me always think out of the box and create innovative solutions;
  • My family and friends, specially my parents and Isabela Baldim, without whom I could never move forward;
  • My coleagues at NYU-Poly in New York, for the initial idea of a wearable interface and for all the knowledge they provided me with, in special, Prof. Dr. Vikram Kapila, Jared Frank, David Lopez, Valentin Siderskiy and Giancarlo Gramazio;
  • The Physiotherapy Laboratory NENEM (Núcleo de Estudos em Neuropediatria e Motricidade) at Universidade Federal de São Carlos for the help with using Qualisys motion capture system to validate WITRA's motion capture;
  • All the people that at some point supported me.
Thank you all! 
As final statement, I would like to say what came to my mind since the beginning of my participation of Toradex Challenge, in June of 2014: 

Vinícius Bazan.


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