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Research Papers

Design of a Novel Mobility Interface for Infants on a Mobile Robot by Kicking

[+] Author and Article Information
Xi Chen, Sherry Liang, Stephen Dolph

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Systems Laboratory, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716

Christina B. Ragonesi, James C. Galloway

Department of Physical Therapy, Infant Motor Laboratory, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716

Sunil K. Agrawal

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Systems Laboratory, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716agrawal@udel.edu

1

Corresponding author.

J. Med. Devices 4(3), 031006 (Sep 08, 2010) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4002322 History: Received October 25, 2009; Revised July 29, 2010; Published September 08, 2010; Online September 08, 2010

Many infants with special needs, such as with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism have delayed independent mobility due to weak musculature and/or poor coordination. Children with mobility impairments often do not use powered chairs until the age of five, as per current medical practice. Consequently, these children spend considerably less time moving independently around in their environment compared with typically developing children of the same age. Lack of independent mobility may result in delays in their cognitive, perceptual, social, and emotional development, which are well correlated with locomotion. This paper describes a novel mobility interface for the robot to explore the environment when infants are placed in a prone position. Infants can maneuver the robot through a drive interface that utilizes a camera to detect the motion of markers attached to their legs. We expect that infants will learn to drive the device by swinging their legs. Specifically, this paper demonstrates feasibility of this drive interface using data from two infants. Future studies will determine how infants can be trained to drive a robot purposefully and how such self-generated locomotion affects their long-term development.

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Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

Preliminary design ideas

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Figure 2

Starting from the base of Pioneer 3-DX robot, an extension base was added to improve stability as an infant would lie prone on the robot. In addition, cushions were added to provide soft support.

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Figure 3

Overview of the infant base with the foam wedge for supporting the infant, camera for capturing leg motion, and joystick for turning. The bottom panel shows a side view of the allowable adjustments.

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Figure 4

Top view of the infant base with the foam wedge for supporting the infant and camera covered in colorful fabric to attract them. The bottom panel shows a side view of the allowable adjustments.

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Figure 5

A single camera detects six degree-of-freedom information of a marker

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Figure 6

Commercial joystick and mapping

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Figure 7

A schematic of the robot drive interface

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Figure 8

Driving time for two infants over the 4 training days

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Figure 9

Path length of two infants

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Figure 10

Path traveled over 4 days of infant 1

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Figure 11

Path traveled over 4 days of infant 2

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