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Recent Advances in Assistive Robots

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Robotics and Automation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2021) | Viewed by 26086

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Assistive robots have been the subject of great research endeavors, aiming to develop companions that on the one hand can improve the quality of life for people suffering from pathological diseases, mobility limitations, or loneliness, and on the other hand, can extend the independent living of elderly people. To deploy such robots into the market and potentially into real home environments, it is expected that certain applications should be addressed with repeatability and robustness. Although significant research endeavors have already been dedicated to the advancement of robot perception, cognition, and action skills, contemporary robots still suffer from limited and isolated abilities, lack of integrated assistive solutions, and limited dependability. To allow the ambient entrance of robots into our daily life that will offer assistive services of value, significant efforts are still required from the community in order to create robot companions that act and behave predictably in a human-compatible logic, being also capable of resolving specific assistive tasks, while simultaneously building social bonds with their cohabitants that allow for their unsupervised operation in realistic environments. This Special Issue focuses on the recent advances in assistive robots and encourages scientists to submit their outstanding work towards addressing this issue, focusing on the topics listed below:

Holistic human–robot interaction schemes; Robot task planning in assistive leaving; Robot decision making and prompting interaction; Robot assistance provision in daily activities; Robot navigation and SLAM in natural unconstrained environments; Robot behavior regulation based on human activities; Robots for delivery tasks in assistive living scenarios; Smart robot architectures in realistic environments; Robot application tasks with smart environments.

Dr. Ioannis Kostavelis
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Applied Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Holistic human–robot interaction schemes
  • Robot task planning in assistive leaving
  • Robot decision making and prompting interaction
  • Robot assistance provision in daily activities
  • Robot navigation and SLAM in natural unconstrained environments
  • Robot behavior regulation based on human activities
  • Robots for delivery tasks in assistive living scenarios
  • Smart robot architectures in realistic environments
  • Robot application tasks with smart environments

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

18 pages, 2879 KiB  
Article
“Gymmy”: Designing and Testing a Robot for Physical and Cognitive Training of Older Adults
by Maya Krakovski, Shikhar Kumar, Shai Givati, Moshe Bardea, Oded Zafrani, Galit Nimrod, Simona Bar-Haim and Yael Edan
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(14), 6431; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11146431 - 12 Jul 2021
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 3207
Abstract
Physical and cognitive training can maintain and improve older adults’ independence and quality of life. Given the demographic growth of the older adult population and the shortage of caregivers, there is a need for personal trainers for physical and cognitive activities. This study [...] Read more.
Physical and cognitive training can maintain and improve older adults’ independence and quality of life. Given the demographic growth of the older adult population and the shortage of caregivers, there is a need for personal trainers for physical and cognitive activities. This study suggests that social robots can satisfy this demand and presents the development of “Gymmy”, a robotic system for the physical and cognitive training of older adults. The system design includes a humanoid mechanical-looking robot to demonstrate exercises, an RGB-Depth (RGB-D) camera to measure performance and a touch screen and speakers to provide instructions and feedback. Experiments with 26 older adults (65–84 years of age) were performed in home environments to examine the effect of users’ characteristics (age, gender, education and attitude toward robots), the addition of cognitive training and the success rate of the acceptability of a robot trainer. The results showed that age, attitude and education influenced the acceptance of the robotic system. The findings highlight the importance of customizing the system to the needs of different users and the role of meaningful feedback. The system was proven to be robust and reliable, demonstrating clear potential to be used as a personal trainer and as a means of motivating older adults. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Assistive Robots)
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21 pages, 5988 KiB  
Article
LAMDA Controller Applied to the Trajectory Tracking of an Aerial Manipulator
by Gabriela M. Andaluz, Luis Morales, Paulo Leica, Víctor H. Andaluz and Guillermo Palacios-Navarro
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(13), 5885; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11135885 - 24 Jun 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2043
Abstract
In this work, a novel LAMDA (Learning Algorithm for Multivariable Data Analysis) control strategy for trajectory tracking for an aerial manipulator is presented. Four control strategies are developed: Kinematic, Inverse Dynamics, Sliding Mode (SMC), and LAMDA. These are compared with each other in [...] Read more.
In this work, a novel LAMDA (Learning Algorithm for Multivariable Data Analysis) control strategy for trajectory tracking for an aerial manipulator is presented. Four control strategies are developed: Kinematic, Inverse Dynamics, Sliding Mode (SMC), and LAMDA. These are compared with each other in order to verify their performance to fulfill the control objective. Experimental tests were also carried out to validate the developed controllers. In addition, a study of stability has been also performed for all the controllers. The results obtained by the LAMDA controller demonstrated the good performance of the controller in the aerial manipulator robot. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a LAMDA controller has been applied to an aerial robotic manipulator. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Assistive Robots)
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18 pages, 811 KiB  
Article
Decision Making with STPA through Markov Decision Process, a Theoretic Framework for Safe Human-Robot Collaboration
by Angeliki Zacharaki, Ioannis Kostavelis and Ioannis Dokas
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(11), 5212; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11115212 - 4 Jun 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2887
Abstract
During the last decades, collaborative robots capable of operating out of their cages are widely used in industry to assist humans in mundane and harsh manufacturing tasks. Although such robots are inherently safe by design, they are commonly accompanied by external sensors and [...] Read more.
During the last decades, collaborative robots capable of operating out of their cages are widely used in industry to assist humans in mundane and harsh manufacturing tasks. Although such robots are inherently safe by design, they are commonly accompanied by external sensors and other cyber-physical systems, to facilitate close cooperation with humans, which frequently render the collaborative ecosystem unsafe and prone to hazards. We introduce a method that capitalizes on partially observable Markov decision processes (POMDP) to amalgamate nominal actions of the system along with unsafe control actions posed by the System Theoretic Process Analysis (STPA). A decision-making mechanism that constantly prompts the system into a safer state is realized by providing situation awareness about the safety levels of the collaborative ecosystem by associating the system safety awareness with specific groups of selected actions. POMDP compensates the partial observability and uncertainty of the current state of the collaborative environment and creates safety screening policies that tend to make decisions that balance the system from unsafe to safe states in real time during the operational phase. The theoretical framework is assessed on a simulated human–robot collaborative scenario and proved capable of identifying loss and success scenarios. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Assistive Robots)
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14 pages, 4083 KiB  
Article
Robotic Precisely Oocyte Blind Enucleation Method
by Xiangfei Zhao, Maosheng Cui, Yidi Zhang, Yaowei Liu and Xin Zhao
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 1850; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11041850 - 19 Feb 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2198
Abstract
Oocyte enucleation is a critical procedure for somatic cell nuclear transfer. Yet, the main steps of oocyte enucleation are still manually operated, which presents several drawbacks such as low precision, high repetition error, and long training time for operators. For improving the operation [...] Read more.
Oocyte enucleation is a critical procedure for somatic cell nuclear transfer. Yet, the main steps of oocyte enucleation are still manually operated, which presents several drawbacks such as low precision, high repetition error, and long training time for operators. For improving the operation efficiency and success rate, a robotic precise oocyte blind enucleation method is presented in this paper. The proposed method involves the following key techniques: oocyte translation control, oocyte immobilization and penetration control, and enucleation volume control based on the adaptive slide mode. Compared with the manual blind enucleation method, the proposed robotic blind enucleation method reduced the operation time by 44.5% (manual method: 62 s vs. proposed method: 34.4 s), increased the accuracy of enucleation by 83.1% (manual method: 30.7 vs. proposed method: 5.2), increased the success rate from 80% to 93.3%, and increased the cleavage rate from 41.7% to 63.3%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Assistive Robots)
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18 pages, 2608 KiB  
Article
A Power-Assisted Cart with the Optimal Assistance Ratio and Disturbance Observer-Based Methods for Walking Assistance Applications
by Xianglong Wan, Jiaxin Ma, Yichi Zhang, Takahiro Endo and Fumitoshi Matsuno
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(3), 1079; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11031079 - 25 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1738
Abstract
In this paper, we propose two control methods for driving a power-assisted cart made for walking assistance for the elderly. The optimal assistance ratio (OAR) and disturbance observer-based (DOB) methods properly adjust the motor output of the cart with high operational efficiency in [...] Read more.
In this paper, we propose two control methods for driving a power-assisted cart made for walking assistance for the elderly. The optimal assistance ratio (OAR) and disturbance observer-based (DOB) methods properly adjust the motor output of the cart with high operational efficiency in response to changes in the environment. Healthy subjects walked with the cart on several road surfaces under various conditions, and the experimental results indicate the high operational efficiency of the two proposed methods. Meanwhile, their drawbacks are also discussed herein. The two methods can be used separately or combined according to the application. The OAR method is more suitable for indoor use, while the DOB method is applicable for outdoor applications. Combining these two methods could overcome the mentioned drawbacks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Assistive Robots)
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23 pages, 4095 KiB  
Article
Design and Development of Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) for Fingers and Wrist Grounded-Exoskeleton Rehabilitation System
by Husam Almusawi and Géza Husi
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(2), 815; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11020815 - 16 Jan 2021
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 5139
Abstract
Impairments of fingers, wrist, and hand forearm result in significant hand movement deficiencies and daily task performance. Most of the existing rehabilitation assistive robots mainly focus on either the wrist training or fingers, and they are limiting the natural motion; many mechanical parts [...] Read more.
Impairments of fingers, wrist, and hand forearm result in significant hand movement deficiencies and daily task performance. Most of the existing rehabilitation assistive robots mainly focus on either the wrist training or fingers, and they are limiting the natural motion; many mechanical parts associated with the patient’s arms, heavy and expensive. This paper presented the design and development of a new, cost-efficient Finger and wrist rehabilitation mechatronics system (FWRMS) suitable for either hand right or left. The proposed machine aimed to present a solution to guide individuals with severe difficulties in their everyday routines for people suffering from a stroke or other motor diseases by actuating seven joints motions and providing them repeatable Continuous Passive Motion (CPM). FWRMS approach uses a combination of; grounded-exoskeleton structure to provide the desired displacement to the hand’s four fingers flexion/extension (F/E) driven by an indirect feed drive mechanism by adopting a leading screw and nut transmission; and an end-effector structure to provide angular velocity to the wrist flexion/ extension (F/E), wrist radial/ulnar deviation (R/U), and forearm supination/pronation (S/P) driven by a rotational motion mechanism. We employed a single dual-sided actuator to power both mechanisms. Additionally, this article presents the implementation of a portable embedded controller. Moreover, this paper addressed preliminary experimental testing and evaluation process. The conducted test results of the FWRMS robot achieved the required design characteristics and executed the motion needed for the continuous passive motion rehabilitation and provide stable trajectories guidance by following the natural range of motion (ROM) and a functional workspace of the targeted joints comfortably for all trainable movements by FWRMS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Assistive Robots)
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12 pages, 1868 KiB  
Article
Design of Effective Robotic Gaze-Based Social Cueing for Users in Task-Oriented Situations: How to Overcome In-Attentional Blindness?
by WonHyong Lee, Chung Hyuk Park, Seyun Jang and Hye-Kyung Cho
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(16), 5413; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10165413 - 5 Aug 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2595
Abstract
Robotic eye-gaze-based cueing has been studied and proved to be effective, in controlled environments, in achieving social functions as humans gaze. However, its dynamic adaptability in various real interactions has not been explored in-depth. This paper addresses a case where a simplistic robotic [...] Read more.
Robotic eye-gaze-based cueing has been studied and proved to be effective, in controlled environments, in achieving social functions as humans gaze. However, its dynamic adaptability in various real interactions has not been explored in-depth. This paper addresses a case where a simplistic robotic gaze fails to achieve effective social cueing in human–robot communication, primarily due to in-attentional blindness (IB), and presents a method that enables the robot to deliver gaze-based social signals adequately. To understand the implications of IB and figure out ways to overcome any limitations from IB, which frequently arise in task-oriented situations, we designed a set of 1-on-1 communication experiments consisting of a robotic tutor and human learners participating in multiple-choice quiz sessions (task-oriented situation). Here, multimedia contents were utilized alongside the robot as visual stimuli competing for the human’s attention. We hypothesized that quiz scores would increase when humans successfully recognize the robot’s gaze-based cue signals hinting answers. We compared the impacts of two different cueing methods: oblique cueing (OC), where cues were straightforwardly provided regardless of whether participants were potentially experiencing IB or not, and leading cueing (LC), where cueing procedures were led through achieving eye contact and securing the participants’ attention before signaling the cue. By comparing participants’ test scores achieved by the control group with no cueing (NC) and two experimental groups of OC and LC, respectively, we found that there was a significant increase in test scores only when the LC method was utilized. This experiment illustrates the importance of proactively guiding a user’s attention through sophisticated interaction design in effectively attaining a user’s attention and successfully delivering cues. In future studies, we aim to evaluate different methods by which a social robot can intentionally shift a human’s attention, such as incorporating stimuli from various multi-modal human communication channels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Assistive Robots)
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17 pages, 29496 KiB  
Article
Development of a Passive Prosthetic Hand That Restores Finger Movements Made by Additive Manufacturing
by Rodrigo Cézar da Silveira Romero, André Argueso Machado, Kliftom Amorim Costa, Paulo Henrique Rodriguês Guilherme Reis, Pedro Paiva Brito and Claysson Bruno Santos Vimieiro
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 4148; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10124148 - 16 Jun 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 5238
Abstract
This work aims to develop a low-cost human hand prosthesis manufactured through additive manufacturing. The methodology used for the development of the prosthesis used affordable and low-cost materials in the market. Tensile testing was performed to estimate the mechanical properties in order to [...] Read more.
This work aims to develop a low-cost human hand prosthesis manufactured through additive manufacturing. The methodology used for the development of the prosthesis used affordable and low-cost materials in the market. Tensile testing was performed to estimate the mechanical properties in order to verify the resistance of the printing material used. Afterwards, the mechanical feasibility study executed on the device was performed using finite element method. In conclusion, we can observe fundamental factors that influence the 3D printing process, especially in relation to its printing parameters and mechanical properties. Maximum stress, yield stress, modulus of elasticity, elongation, and hardness are the prominent properties that should be considered when choosing the polymeric material. The numerical simulation showed that the structure of the prosthesis did not present plastic deformations to the applied loads, proving its mechanical viability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Assistive Robots)
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