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Sayahkarajy, Mostafa; Witte, Hartmut; Faudzi, Ahmad Athif Mohd
Chorda dorsalis system as a paragon for soft medical robots to design echocardiography probes with a new SOM-based steering control. - In: Biomimetics, ISSN 2313-7673, Bd. 9 (2024), 4, 199, S. 1-22

Continuum robots play the role of end effectors in various surgical robots and endoscopic devices. While soft continuum robots (SCRs) have proven advantages such as safety and compliance, more research and development are required to enhance their capability for specific medical scenarios. This research aims at designing a soft robot, considering the concepts of geometric and kinematic similarities. The chosen application is a semi-invasive medical application known as transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). The feasibility of fabrication of a soft endoscopic device derived from the Chorda dorsalis paragon was shown empirically by producing a three-segment pneumatic SCR. The main novelties include bioinspired design, modeling, and a navigation control strategy presented as a novel algorithm to maintain a kinematic similarity between the soft robot and the rigid counterpart. The kinematic model was derived based on the method of transformation matrices, and an algorithm based on a self-organizing map (SOM) network was developed and applied to realize kinematic similarity. The simulation results indicate that the control method forces the soft robot tip to follow the path of the rigid probe within the prescribed distance error (5 mm). The solution provides a soft robot that can surrogate and succeed the traditional rigid counterpart owing to size, workspace, and kinematics.



https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics9040199
Kreipe, Stefan; Helbig, Thomas; Witte, Hartmut; Schumann, Nikolaus; Anders, Christoph
Comparison of sEMG onset detection methods for occupational exoskeletons on extensive close-to-application data. - In: Bioengineering, ISSN 2306-5354, Bd. 11 (2024), 2, 119, S. 1-13

The design of human-machine interfaces of occupational exoskeletons is essential for their successful application, but at the same time demanding. In terms of information gain, biosensoric methods such as surface electromyography (sEMG) can help to achieve intuitive control of the device, for example by reduction of the inherent time latencies of a conventional, non-biosensoric, control scheme. To assess the reliability of sEMG onset detection under close to real-life circumstances, shoulder sEMG of 55 healthy test subjects was recorded during seated free arm lifting movements based on assembly tasks. Known algorithms for sEMG onset detection are reviewed and evaluated regarding application demands. A constant false alarm rate (CFAR) double-threshold detection algorithm was implemented and tested with different features. Feature selection was done by evaluation of signal-to-noise-ratio (SNR), onset sensitivity and precision, as well as timing error and deviation. Results of visual signal inspection by sEMG experts and kinematic signals were used as references. Overall, a CFAR algorithm with Teager-Kaiser-Energy-Operator (TKEO) as feature showed the best results with feature SNR = 14.48 dB, 91% sensitivity, 93% precision. In average, sEMG analysis hinted towards impending movements 215 ms before measurable kinematic changes.



https://doi.org/10.3390/bioengineering11020119
Uhrhan, Katja; Jäger, Max; Witte, Hartmut
Threshold based reduction of EMS stimulation artifacts in the electromyogram when stimulation intensity increases. - In: Engineering for a changing world, (2023), 3.2.144, S. 1-10

To investigate muscular strain, it is possible to record an electromyogram (EMG) during electromyostimulation (EMS). However, stimulation artifacts make it difficult to examine evoked compound muscle action potentials (M-waves). The aim of this work was to algorithmically remove stimulation artifacts from the EMG signal when the stimulation intensity increases. For this purpose, EMG signals were recorded on four subjects who underwent a 30-second EMS of the right M. triceps surae. Afterwards we conducted offline signal processing to reduce stimulation artifacts. We implemented a two-stage threshold algorithm, adapted from O'Keeffe et al. (2001), to remove signal segments passing the thresholds in a defined sequence. Here, the thresholds in the first iteration are two constants, while the algorithm uses linearly or exponentially increasing thresholds in the second iteration. After empirically adjusting the threshold parameters, the stimulation artifacts were successfully reduced. This allows further investigations of the M-waves with respect to muscular fatigue.



https://doi.org/10.22032/dbt.59139
Jäger, Max; Helbig, Thomas; Witte, Hartmut
Control for non-linear compliant actuation of an upper arm exoskeleton. - In: Engineering for a changing world, (2023), 3.2.088, S. 1-15

Musculoskeletal diseases of the back and upper extremities are one of the main causes of sick leave in Europe. Exoskeletons are one possible approach to preventive measures. The Biomechatronics Group at Technische Universität Ilmenau is developing an antagonistically actuated exoskeleton with non-linear compliance to support flexion and extension of the elbow in repetitive tasks like in assembly. Here, we present a control strategy to achieve joint stiffness control while benefitting from the advantages of non-linear compliant actuation. We use a decentralized control approach, combining two PID controllers to control joint position and string force and thus, joint stiffness, in the antagonistically acting drive. We show limitations and benefits of this approach through simulation and measurement.



https://doi.org/10.22032/dbt.58877
Steinz, Josefine; Lutherdt, Stefan; Witte, Hartmut
Concept for the measurement of vital parameters during the use of an infrared cabin to investigate physiological effects and to individualize the sauna session. - In: Engineering for a changing world, (2023), 3.2.050, S. 1-20

Infrared sauna bathing has positive effects on body and mind. Quantifying these effects helps to make sauna use more efficient and safer and to increase the user-observed wellness effects. Currently, there are no practical solutions for a comprehensive and user-friendly monitoring of the physical impact of sauna bathing. This paper focuses on the concept development to investigate which measurement setups are suitable to record and evaluate changes in vital parameters. Based on prioritized vital parameters and requirements a pre-selection of devices in form of wearables is made, which is going to be examined in detail for their suitability. An investigation with ten test persons is planned, in which the wearables’ measurement accuracy and the user acceptance outside and inside the infrared cabin are quantified. The result is a concept for the test procedure and the evaluation of the wearables in order to integrate a suitable device into the overall system.



https://doi.org/10.22032/dbt.58880
Andrada, Emanuel; Hildebrandt, Gregor; Witte, Hartmut; Fischer, Martin S.
Positioning of pivot points in quadrupedal locomotion: limbs global dynamics in four different dog breeds. - In: Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, ISSN 2296-4185, Bd. 11 (2023), 1193177, S. 1-16

Dogs (Canis familiaris) prefer the walk at lower speeds and the more economical trot at speeds ranging from 0.5 Fr up to 3 Fr. Important works have helped to understand these gaits at the levels of the center of mass, joint mechanics, and muscular control. However, less is known about the global dynamics for limbs and if these are gait or breed-specific. For walk and trot, we analyzed dogs’ global dynamics, based on motion capture and single leg kinetic data, recorded from treadmill locomotion of French Bulldog (N = 4), Whippet (N = 5), Malinois (N = 4), and Beagle (N = 5). Dogs’ pelvic and thoracic axial leg functions combined compliance with leg lengthening. Thoracic limbs were stiffer than the pelvic limbs and absorbed energy in the scapulothoracic joint. Dogs’ ground reaction forces (GRF) formed two virtual pivot points (VPP) during walk and trot each. One emerged for the thoracic (fore) limbs (VPPTL) and is roughly located above and caudally to the scapulothoracic joint. The second is located roughly above and cranially to the hip joint (VPPPL). The positions of VPPs and the patterns of the limbs’ axial and tangential projections of the GRF were gaits but not always breeds-related. When they existed, breed-related changes were mainly exposed by the French Bulldog. During trot, positions of the VPPs tended to be closer to the hip joint or the scapulothoracic joint, and variability between and within breeds lessened compared to walk. In some dogs, VPPPL was located below the pelvis during trot. Further analyses revealed that leg length and not breed may better explain differences in the vertical position of VPPTL or the horizontal position of VPPPL. The vertical position of VPPPL was only influenced by gait, while the horizontal position of VPPTL was not breed or gait-related. Accordingly, torque profiles in the scapulothoracic joint were likely between breeds while hip torque profiles were size-related. In dogs, gait and leg length are likely the main VPPs positions’ predictors. Thus, variations of VPP positions may follow a reduction of limb work. Stability issues need to be addressed in further studies.



https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbioe.2023.1193177
Jäger, Max; Helbig, Thomas; Goos, Moritz; Köhring, Sebastian; Witte, Hartmut
Characterization of an antagonistic actuation system with nonlinear compliance for an upper-arm exoskeleton. - In: Actuators, ISSN 2076-0825, Bd. 12 (2023), 5, 196, S. 1-24

The parallel connection of technical and biological systems with a comparable mechanical behavior offers the possibility of reducing the interaction forces between those systems. Especially in the context of human-robot interaction (e.g., exoskeletons), it can improve user safety and acceptance at the same time. With this aim, we used antagonistic actuators with nonlinear compliance for a modular upper-extremity exoskeleton following biological paragons, mirroring the “blueprint” of its human user. In a test-bed setup, we compared antagonistic compliant actuation with antagonistic stiff, unilateral stiff and unilateral compliant actuation in the artificial “elbow joint” of the exoskeleton test bed. We show that this type of actuation allows the variation of the joint stiffness during motion, independent of the position. With the approach we propose, compliance leads to reduced force peaks and angular jerk, without sacrifices in terms of time constants and overshoot of amplitudes. We conclude that the presented actuation principle has considerable benefits in comparison to other types of exoskeleton actuation, even when using only commercially available and 3D printed components. Based on our work, further investigations into the control of compliant antagonistically actuated exoskeletons become realizable.



https://doi.org/10.3390/act12050196
David, Jonas Paul; Helbig, Thomas; Witte, Hartmut
SenGlove - a modular wearable device to measure kinematic parameters of the human hand. - In: Bioengineering, ISSN 2306-5354, Bd. 10 (2023), 3, 324, S. 1-29

For technical or medical applications, the knowledge of the exact kinematics of the human hand is key to utilizing its capability of handling and manipulating objects and communicating with other humans or machines. The optimal relationship between the number of measurement parameters, measurement accuracy, as well as complexity, usability and cost of the measuring systems is hard to find. Biomechanic assumptions, the concepts of a biomechatronic system and the mechatronic design process, as well as commercially available components, are used to develop a sensorized glove. The proposed wearable introduced in this paper can measure 14 of 15 angular values of a simplified hand model. Additionally, five contact pressure values at the fingertips and inertial data of the whole hand with six degrees of freedom are gathered. Due to the modular design and a hand size examination based on anthropometric parameters, the concept of the wearable is applicable to a large variety of hand sizes and adaptable to different use cases. Validations show a combined root-mean-square error of 0.99° to 2.38° for the measurement of all joint angles on one finger, surpassing the human perception threshold and the current state-of-the-art in science and technology for comparable systems.



https://doi.org/10.3390/bioengineering10030324
Witte, Hartmut; Helbig, Thomas; Hönemann, Claudia; Lutherdt, Stefan; Wenzel, Sabine
Coping with teaching under corona conditions at one of the smaller universities :
Bewältigung der Lehre unter Corona-Bedingungen an einer der kleineren Universitäten. - In: Lessons learned, ISSN 2749-1307, Bd. 2 (2022), 1, 35, S. 1-10

Die Technische Universität Ilmenau versucht auch unter „Corona-Zwängen“ durch Kontakteinschränkungen in Kombination mit begrenzten Lehrkapazitäten Seminare, Übungen und Praktika angemessen durchzuführen und die Lehre nicht zu vorlesungslastig werden zu lassen. Die Seminar- und Praktikumsräume gaben jedoch auch unter intensiver zeitlicher Raumbewirtschaftung von 7 Uhr bis 21 Uhr „zentral“ wie durch die Fachgebiete bei Einhaltung der Hygienevorschriften keine ausreichenden Kapazitäten zur Durchführung in Präsenz her. Der Beitrag berichtet daher über von uns getestete Möglichkeiten zur Umsetzung der etablierten Lehrformate in Onlineformate. Zusätzlich werden Lösungen zur sicheren Realisation von Präsenzprüfungen unter Pandemie-Bedingungen dargestellt. Daher war ab April 2020 neben der relativ einfach umzusetzenden Online-Durchführung der Vorlesungen für die Seminare und insbesondere die Praktika viel Eigeninitiative und Einfallsreichtum erforderlich, um den eigenen Qualitätsanforderungen der Lehrenden genüge leisten zu können. Im Vortrag wird über ausgewählte Beispiele der so entstandenen Lösungen berichtet, wie sie in der Fakultät für Maschinenbau der Technischen Universität Ilmenau realisiert wurden. Unsere Fakultät weist ein breites Spektrum von „klassischen“ Fächern bis zu Lichttechnik, Technischer Optik und Biomechatronik auf, so dass schon bei dieser Stichprobe aus nur einem Fachgebiet einer der fünf Fakultäten die dem Wissenschaftler gemeine übergreifende Bewertung kaum zu bieten ist. Selbstverständlich wird nicht nur über Lösungen berichtet, sondern die ungelösten Probleme werden gleichrangig angesprochen.



https://doi.org/10.25369/ll.v2i1.35