Supernumerary Robotic Limbs: A Workshop Proposal

Harry Asada1

  • 1MIT

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Workshop

Sessions

14:00 - 18:00 | Mon 4 Nov | LG-R12 | MoWB-R12

Supernumerary Robotic Limbs

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Abstract

Workshop on Supernumerary Robotic Limbs Objectives (max. 600 words) Imagine that one-day humans have a third arm and a third leg attached to their body. The extra limbs will help them hold objects, support the human body, share a workload, and streamline the execution of a task. If the movements of such Supernumerary Limbs are naturally coordinated with their own limbs, the humans may come to perceive the extra limbs as an extension of the body, incorporated into their body image. The goal of the proposed workshop is to bring together researchers and practitioners interested in Supernumerary Robotic Limbs, displaying the state-of-the-art, discussing a broad spectrum of research challenges, and showcasing actual and potential applications of the technology in both industrial and rehabilitation areas. Supernumerary Robotic Limbs (SRL) are related to two existing types of wearable robots: exoskeletons and prosthetic devices. The former extends the joint strength of the human body by attaching actuators to individual human joints, or passively redistributes the load to other part of the body, or even stores energy. The latter substitutes lost human limbs with mechanical ones. SRL represents a third type of wearable robots. Unlike prosthetic devices, SRL provides extra limbs in addition to the four limbs. Unlike exoskeletons, where active and passive devices are attached to the human body and move together with the body, SRL can move freely, taking a posture different from the human limbs. This freedom of SRL can open up new possibilities of wearable robots. When a worker is fixing a light fixture to a ceiling, SRL can hold the light fixture while the worker is setting screws. When a field worker is working on a tall ladder or a dangerous place, SRL can hold a rail or a structure to securely support the human body. When a human has to crouch or crawl in order to work on the ground, SRL can hold the body with its extra arms so that the human neither have to crouch/crawl nor support the upper body with his/her own arms. SRL augments the human capabilities in many ways. The freedom, flexibility, and new functionality of SRLs come with new technical challenges and scientific questions. How can a human communicate with SRL? How can SRL coordinate its motion with the human? Can a human control SRLs simultaneously with his/her own arms and legs? Does the human brain support SRLs? Can we design a SRL that is comfortably worn for a long time? How can we reduce the weight and size of SRL? Numerous research issues and technical challenges must be addressed. These range from machine design, materials, and control engineering to human-robot systems, biomechanics, ergonomics, brain and cognitive sciences, and neuromotor control. In this workshop we invite speakers having diverse research activities and a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. These include biomechanics researchers, robot designers, materials scientists, and neuroscientists. We aim to exchange idea

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