First Impressions and Progress

So far, coming to Menomonie has been a great experience. It has almost been two weeks since arriving and I am pleased with how much knowledge I have gained about robotics for assistive technology. I believe we have great mentors to lead us in the right direction of our projects and help us at sticking points along the way.

The campus itself is beautiful, many of the campus buildings look new and have modern designs. Also, there are some great views of lake Menomin. We are staying in the Red Cedar dorms which are very nice and the staff is awesome! The dorm is convenient because everything on campus is can be reached easily by foot or bike. During our campus tours I was impressed with all of the labs that are in the engineering and technology buildings. The university has many different types of machinery and technology available to their students.

During the first week we began brain storming on our project. We decided that we would like the Kinova Jaco 2 arm to be incorporated into our assistive technology research. After narrowing down our ideas we met with our mentor and employees from the Vocational Rehabilitation center to provide input on our ideas. After receiving our feedback, we decided that we would like to incorporate a vision system on the robot that uses facial expression recognition for meal assistance.Jaco Arm

J. Frappier conducted a study that showed how the Jaco robot alone can reduce the time a user needs with a care-taker and over the lifespan of the robot, the reduced amount of time with the care-taker makes the robot pay for itself [1]. We intend to reduce the time with a care-taker even further. Reducing the time with a care-taker and giving the user freedom to eat when they desire, also gives them a sense of freedom and independence. Another issue to address is that unnecessary time is spent on switching the modes of the robot while completing a motion with the joystick. With our automated system we plan to minimize use of the joystick while eating/drinking.

A research study similar to ours looked into bringing a cup to the users face through the use of a camera facing the user and a camera mounted on the robot hand to find the cup [2]. Their only issue was when multiple faces could be seen by the camera the computer would sometimes monitor the wrong face [2]. We believe that using a vision system that can detect depth will allow us to eliminate any interference from faces in the back ground.

To expand on bringing cups to a mouth, a study was performed by Y. Kuriyama, K. Yano and M. Hamaguchi where they developed a system to prevent spilling while the robot transports liquid [3]. This will be something for us to keep in mind as we proceed with the project. Either we will need to adjust the joint velocities of the robot to prevent spilling or design specific utensils that are compatible for use with the robot.



Works Cited

[1]     J. Frappier, “FINAL REPORT Clinico-economic study of the JACO robotic arm for powered wheelchair users with upper-extremity disabilities”, Data 4 Actions, 2011.


[2]     H. Tanaka, Y. Sumi and Y. Matsumoto, “Assistive robotic arm autonomously bringing a cup to the mouth by face recognition”, 2010 IEEE Workshop on Advanced Robotics and its Social Impacts, pp. 34-39, 2010.


[3]    Y. Kuriyama, K. Yano and M. Hamaguchi, “Trajectory planning for meal assist robot considering spilling avoidance”, 2008 IEEE International Conference on Control Applications, pp. 1220-1225, 2008.



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