In order to properly control rehabilitation robotic devices, the measurement of interaction force and motion between patient and robot is an essential part. Usually, however, this is a complex task that requires the use of accurate sensors which increase the cost and the complexity of the robotic device. In this work, we address the development of virtual sensors that can be used as an alternative of actual force and motion sensors for the Universal Haptic Pantograph (UHP) rehabilitation robot for upper limbs training. These virtual sensors estimate the force and motion at the contact point where the patient interacts with the robot using the mathematical model of the robotic device and measurement through low cost position sensors. To demonstrate the performance of the proposed virtual sensors, they have been implemented in an advanced position/force controller of the UHP rehabilitation robot and experimentally evaluated. The experimental results reveal that the controller based on the virtual sensors has similar performance to the one using direct measurement (less than 0.005 m and 1.5 N difference in mean error). Hence, the developed virtual sensors to estimate interaction force and motion can be adopted to replace actual precise but normally high-priced sensors which are fundamental components for advanced control of rehabilitation robotic devices.
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