Department of Exercise Sciences


Physical Robot-Human Interaction

The Department of Exercise Sciences Biomechanics Laboratory conducts numerous research projects.

Biomechanics Laboratory Project


Physical Robot-Human interaction for performance based progressive robot-assisted therapy. Shane Xie, Andrew Pullan, Bruce MacDonald, Gordon Mallinson and Yanxin Zhang.

Recent development of robotics and advanced control technology has provided efficient tools for the development of new medical devices. While skilled therapists or surgeons can achieve good results with even rudimentary equipment, the maximum effectiveness of their existing "toolbox" is rapidly being reached. New assistive tools are needed to improve productivity, enhance medical outcome and reduce potential risks. Our research suggests that robotics and information technology can transform clinical practice from its present basis in manual operations to a more technology-rich operation. This situation creates a pressing need for new therapeutic strategies to increase productivity while optimizing the quality of care.

This research aims to investigate the underlying fundamental science behind physical human-robot interaction. This includes the understanding of the biomechanics of bone-muscle system, motor learning, neuro-recovery processes. A new performance-based impedance control algorithm, which is triggered via speed, time, or electromyography (EMG), will be developed based on the understanding and feedback of the bio system. The main goal of this research is to set up the foundation for the development of a new class of interactive, user-friendly robotic devices that can assist, enhance, and quantify rehabilitation.

This research is to investigate the following four fundamental issues:

  1. the technological evolution of machines for physical exercise
  2. new Methods for evaluation of rehabilitation performances
  3. advanced control methods for human robot interaction
  4. biomechanics modeling of biosystem.

The research will start with lower limb rehabilitation but the results will contribute to the development of other medical devices that require physical interaction with human.

The project is to set up a foundation for future funding applications from the Medical and Rehabilitation Robotics group, and it will be important to the development of the group. The group has developed many research prototypes especially in the medical devices area. A prototype rehabilitation robot has been set up to control interaction force in three degree of freedom and this robot will be used as a platform for this research. The budget is made up of people cost involving a one-year postdoctoral fellow and equipment cost.