Robotic Learning From Demonstration Of Therapists Time-Varying Assistance To A Patient In Trajectory-Following Tasks

The number of people with physical disabilities and impaired motion control is increasing. Consequently, there is a growing demand for intelligent assistive robotic systems to cooperate with people with disability and help them carry out different tasks. To this end, our group has pioneered the use of robot learning from demonstration (RLfD) techniques, which eliminate the need for task-specific robot programming, in robotic rehabilitation and assistive technologies settings. First, in the demonstration phase, the therapist (or in general, a helper) provides an intervention (typically assistance) and cooperatively performs a task with a patient several times. The demonstrated motion is modelled by a statistical RLfD algorithm, which will later be used in the robot controllers to reproduce a similar intervention robotically. In this paper, by proposing a Tangential-Normal Varying-Impedance Controller (TNVIC), the robotic manipulator not only follows the therapist’s demonstrated motion, but also mimics his/her interaction impedance during the therapeutic/assistive intervention. The feasibility and efficacy of the proposed framework are evaluated by conducting an experiment involving a healthy adult with cerebral palsy symptoms being induced using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.