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Sensors 2016, 16(7), 1116; doi:10.3390/s16071116

A New Controller for a Smart Walker Based on Human-Robot Formation

Postgraduate Program in Electrical Engineering, Federal University of Espirito Santo (UFES), Fernando Ferrari Av., 514, 29075-910 Vitoria, Brazil
Electrical Engineering Department, Federal University of Espirito Santo (UFES), Fernando Ferrari Av., 514, 29075-910 Vitoria, Brazil
Institute of Automatics, National University of San Juan (UNSJ), San Martín Av. (Oeste), 1109, J5400ARL San Juan, Argentina
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), C1425FQB Buenos Aires, Argentina
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Dan Zhang
Received: 12 May 2016 / Revised: 24 June 2016 / Accepted: 14 July 2016 / Published: 19 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics Devices)


This paper presents the development of a smart walker that uses a formation controller in its displacements. Encoders, a laser range finder and ultrasound are the sensors used in the walker. The control actions are based on the user (human) location, who is the actual formation leader. There is neither a sensor attached to the user’s body nor force sensors attached to the arm supports of the walker, and thus, the control algorithm projects the measurements taken from the laser sensor into the user reference and, then, calculates the linear and angular walker’s velocity to keep the formation (distance and angle) in relation to the user. An algorithm was developed to detect the user’s legs, whose distances from the laser sensor provide the information necessary to the controller. The controller was theoretically analyzed regarding its stability, simulated and validated with real users, showing accurate performance in all experiments. In addition, safety rules are used to check both the user and the device conditions, in order to guarantee that the user will not have any risks when using the smart walker. The applicability of this device is for helping people with lower limb mobility impairments. View Full-Text
Keywords: smart walker; robotic walker; accessibility; mobility; assistive technology smart walker; robotic walker; accessibility; mobility; assistive technology

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Valadão, C.; Caldeira, E.; Bastos-Filho, T.; Frizera-Neto, A.; Carelli, R. A New Controller for a Smart Walker Based on Human-Robot Formation. Sensors 2016, 16, 1116.

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