Judges’ Queries and Presenter’s Replies

  • Icon for: Diane Cook

    Diane Cook

    Judge
    May 20, 2013 | 12:11 p.m.

    Your experiment shows that voice control requires longer time than touchscreen.
    I wonder how much of this is a function of the complexity of the task.
    For example, saying “open the door in front of me” would be easier than
    joysticking the arm through the entire process. Are the vocabularies for
    both interfaces comparable and does task time and usability assessment
    vary with the complexity of the task and vocabulary?

  • Icon for: Elaine Houston

    Elaine Houston

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 12:30 a.m.

    The data presented is very preliminary in nature based on only a few subjects, as we are currently working on completing this study with up to 15 potential end users. Keeping that in mind, with the current voice and touchscreen tablets, it appears that voice is taking longer. In this study we are comparing the same tasks with both interfaces. Also the vocabularies are comparable as each voice command is matched to the equivalent button press on the touch screen. In the future with the addition of computer vision and autonomous path planing your example of “open the door in front of me,” could be possible but for now it is a series of discrete movement commands.

  • May 20, 2013 | 07:14 p.m.

    How does this technology improve over other research proposals?

  • Icon for: Elaine Houston

    Elaine Houston

    Presenter
    May 21, 2013 | 11:48 p.m.

    What are you looking to compare PerMMA to since there are few comparable technologies? Most of the other wheelchair mounted robotic arms that have been studied consist of a single fixed mounted robotic arm. PerMMA improves on these other systems in several ways. One, PerMMA incorporates bimanual manipulation for increased capability in performance of activities of daily living. Secondly, PerMMA is an integrated system that includes a robotic base adding to the DOF of the system especially when autonomous control is added, and allows for enhanced mobility with the implementation of advanced features such as traction control and eventually with the evolution of MEbot the ability to climb up to 8" curbs and eventually stairs. Lastly, as PerMMA’s arms are mounted on a carriage, the arm can be relocated out of the way of the user when not needed to allow for greater mobility in tight spaces as well as transfers and other tasks requiring space at the front or side of the wheelchair.
    Currently many of the potential users of PerMMA are dependent on caregivers to preform tasks that will be possible with PerMMA, due to the lack of technologies currently suited to meet the needs of users with significant disabilities such as those with a high cervical spinal cord injury.
    While there is great promise in brain computer interfaces and neuroprosthetics there are numerous barriers that will need to be addressed before this can become a realistic solution.

  • May 21, 2013 | 03:41 p.m.

    I imagine the second interface can be easily extended so that the remote operator can monitor multiple persons on different PerMMA wheelchairs. In environments having multiple persons with disabilities, is it possible to extend the second interface so that one person with less disability can help another person with disability? Would this be a worthwhile extension? Briefly discuss the software or hardware changes needed to implement this extension (I imagine one of them is to replace Internet by Bluetooth or WiFi connection).

  • Icon for: Elaine Houston

    Elaine Houston

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 12:08 a.m.

    That is an intriguing idea that I don’t think we have given much thought to. We have developed remote teleoperation platform for PerMMA as can be seen in the video, consisting of two omni phantom arms, combined with a video stream from the cameras. Using this as a starting platform, we could easily implement the ability to allow for controls of other PerMMAs. The major changes would be to modify the remote control system from the phantom arm input to a touchscreen interface or alternative that matches the capability of the users.
    To address whether this is worthwhile, is still up for debate as a few factors come in to play. One is the issues related to privacy and security for the person using PerMMA being remotely controlled, as PerMMA’s cameras could be accessed anywhere due to the use of wifi and 4G cellular networks. Safety is another concern which would need to be addressed to ensure the local user of PerMMA has override capabilities to prevent collisions and any unwanted movements. To what level is a user comfortable with another having the ability to see their environment? To what level does a user want to trade autonomy for assistance? As we have heard many users say they prefer to do a task themselves even if it takes longer than a skilled remote operator.

  • May 21, 2013 | 05:53 p.m.

    How have people with disabilities reacted to PerMMA? Do they tend to be excited? intimidated?

  • Icon for: Elaine Houston

    Elaine Houston

    Presenter
    May 21, 2013 | 11:40 p.m.

    Overall the response has been very positive. We have even had a male subject cry after independently opening the microwave for the first time in 15 years. Also the reaction of the general public has also be very positive; during one trip to the coffee shop using PerMMA I had a person standing in line next to me casually lean on the arm without giving it a second thought. We do have future plans to look at these types of interactions and responses by people with disabilities and members of the general public.

    At the same time, some individuals have been intimidated by the interfaces used to control the system and the overall bulk of the system as a whole. We plan to address these issues as we continue to develop and refine this system. In particular I am working on refining the user interfaces to improve the user experience and allow a greater number of users to use the system more effectively.

  • Further posting is closed as the competition has ended.

Presentation Discussion

  • Small default profile

    Christin Klausner

    Guest
    May 20, 2013 | 11:39 a.m.

    How amazing!

  • Icon for: Elaine Houston

    Elaine Houston

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 10:09 a.m.

    Thanks it is always fun to see people’s reactions to PerMMA.

  • May 21, 2013 | 09:42 p.m.

    Cool project, Elaine. I do have wonder about one thing, though: it looks like the robotic arms add quite a bit of bulk around the typical wheelchair base – wouldn’t that limit mobility quite a bit? Do you hope to create a more space-saving version in the future?

  • Icon for: Elaine Houston

    Elaine Houston

    Presenter
    May 21, 2013 | 11:31 p.m.

    We do plan to continue to slim down the system over time. One feature of the current system that was not highlighted was the ability of the arms to store folded up behind the chair. This is achieved by moving the carriage where the arms are mounted to the rear of the chair via the track that can be seen wrapping around the chair. This allows for the chair to pass through standard accessible doors and allow for navigation of tighter spaces.

  • Icon for: Geoffrey Harlow

    Geoffrey Harlow

    Trainee
    May 23, 2013 | 12:27 a.m.

    I am very happy you are doing this. This can improve the quality of many people’s lives. Great work.

  • Icon for: Elaine Houston

    Elaine Houston

    Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 09:18 a.m.

    Thanks. It is always very rewarding and at times awe inspiring to give someone the ability to do something they never thought they would be able to again or never have been able to do on their own for the first time. I say this not a cliche but as a end user myself who really understands what it means to be able to do something independently and spontaneously.

  • Small default profile

    Rosemarie MPT

    Guest
    May 23, 2013 | 02:40 p.m.

    Congratulations on a job well-done in presenting your project that will have a tremendous impact on the quality of life for people with disabilities.

  • Small default profile

    Mary Estevez-Tunstall

    Guest
    May 31, 2013 | 08:38 p.m.

    I personally wanted to take the time to thank you for working on this! I have multiple sclerosis and live alone. Budget cuts have put many of us in harms way. Knowing that you are working on this makes me feel that someone truly cares. I am sharing this video with my facebook Multiple Sclerosis Resource Community. Know that we ALL are cheering you on! God Bless you!

  • Further posting is closed as the competition has ended.

  1. Elaine Houston
  2. http://www.igert.org/profiles/5426
  3. Graduate Student
  4. Presenter’s IGERT
  5. University of Pittsburgh
  1. jorge candiotti
  2. http://www.igert.org/profiles/5429
  3. Graduate Student
  4. Presenter’s IGERT
  5. University of Pittsburgh

The design, development, and testing of the Personal Mobility and Manipulation Appliance (PerMMA) a robotic wheelchair system for people with disabilities

The Personal Mobility and Manipulation Appliance is a human-centered intelligent robotic system consisting of a robotic wheelchair base for mobility and two dexterous robotic arms to allow the user to independently interact with their environment. The goal of PerMMA is to offer greater independence to individuals with mobility and upper extremity impairments by allowing them to perform tasks such as shopping and cooking at home and in the community without the assistance of others. Current work towards this end goal is being pursued along two subprojects. A new robotic wheelchair base, called MEbot is being developed, which is using pneumatics to allow for driving over rough terrains and architectural barriers such as gravel, cross-slopes, curbs, and grass. At the same time user interfaces such as touchscreen and voice control is being developed to provide users with complex disabilities the ability to independently interact with their environment. Future work includes developing outcome measures to better understand and quantify/qualify human robot interaction and their ability to aide in the performance of activities of daily living.