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Webinar 21: Robotics-Inspired Control Systems for Bionic Legs

  • Presentador: Dr. Dario Villareal
  • Fecha: Martes 29 de Agosto 2017
  • Hora: 5:00 pm (CDT)

Summary: By 2050 it is estimated that the U.S. will incur a two-fold increase in the incidence of amputation and stroke, due largely to the prevalence of vascular disease. Developing controllers that allow amputees and stroke survivors to control robotic prosthetic legs and exoskeletons in an intuitive manner could help them recover their mobility. In this talk, I discuss novel approaches to controlling robotic prostheses and exoskeletons inspired by the fields of robotics and neuroscience. I discuss the evolution of the field of robotic prostheses and exoskeletons and how the latest advancements attempt to synchronize the robotic device to the human locomotion and nervous system. In particular, I present how my current research enabled an intuitive synchronization between amputees and a robotic prosthetic leg by building on and combining advancements from the biped robotic and neuroscience fields. Implementing a bioinspired controller in a robotic leg not only allowed amputee subjects to walk steadily at different speeds and inclines, but also gave them voluntary control over the leg during non-rhythmic tasks (e.g., walking backwards and stepping back and forth). Finally, I present a vision of the future where the use of neural signals (i.e., signals from the brain and muscles) and robot control theory could not only provide a more natural and intuitive control over robotic prostheses and exoskeletons, but could also seamlessly synchronize them to the human body.

Dario Villarreal is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Director of the NeuroMechatronics Lab at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, USA. Dr. Villarreal received his B.Eng. Summa Cum Laude in Mechatronics Engineering from Saltillo Tech (Instituto Tecnológico de Saltillo), Mexico in 2012 and his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2017. In 2012, he was recognized by the National Association of Engineering Schools (ANFEI) of Mexico as one of the best engineering students of the country. In 2013, he was awarded a competitive external government grant by the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) of Mexico to support his doctorate research. During his PhD, he worked on developing control algorithms that synchronize a robotic prosthetic leg to the motion of amputees during walking. During the summer of 2016, Dr. Villarreal collaborated with the prestigious university les MINES ParisTech in Paris, France where he developed and validated control algorithms for a full lower-limb exoskeleton. His research concerns the development of controllers that allow amputees and people suffering from mobility impairments a more robust, natural, and intuitive interaction with robotic prosthetic legs and exoskeletons. Dr. Villarreal is a member of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society.