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SEMTE2-2-15Human Robotics for Gait Assistance and Clinical Neuroscience: Two Case Studies
Fabrizio Sergi, Mechanical Engineering Department, Rice University

Monday, February 2, 2015
10:30 a.m.
Goldwater Center (GWC) 487, Tempe campus [map]

Robots are being used in close physical cooperation with humans, as tools to deliver therapeutic protocols for motor rehabilitation, or to support human movements in activities of
daily living, as prostheses or assistive robotic devices. Moreover, novel robotic platforms can serve as a physically embodied alternative to simulations that can be used in real-world experiments to validate and test hypotheses on motor control. In both of these scenarios, the mechatronic design phase needs to follow a paradigm that differs from conventional robot manipulator design, optimizing the trade-offs between human-scale power/torque capabilities, portability, autonomy, but also force fidelity and transparency.

This talk Sergi will focus on two case studies of design of novel robotic devices conceived for biorobotics applications. In the first example, he will describe a novel methodology for the exhaustive design and optimization of wearable robots for human movement assistance, and show how he has applied such methodology to develop a non-anthropomorphic wearable orthosis for gait assistance with reduced reflected inertia and improved ergonomics. In the second part, he will show how his recent developments in the control of compliant actuators and parallel manipulators lead to the development of a novel MR-compatible wrist exoskeleton, the MR-RiceWrist. The MR-RiceWrist enables the execution of novel, joint specific, force-controlled sensorimotor protocols during functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), opening a novel perspective in the analysis of motor learning and motor recovery after neurological injury.

Fabrizio Sergi received his B.Sc. (2005), M.Sc. (2007) and Ph.D. (2011) from Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, Rome, Italy. He is currently a Research Scientist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University, Houston, Texas, following postdoctoral training conducted jointly at Rice University and the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. His main research interest is in the field of biorobotics, and in particular in the development of novel robotic technologies for physical interaction with humans, with a focus on the application to motor neurorehabilitation, functional neuroimaging and biomechanics.

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