Observation and control for a power-assisted wheelchair

This project takes place in the context of a collaboration with the University of Valenciennes, France, involving Professors Thierry-Marie Guerra and Jimmy Lauber, Sami Mohammad at Autonomad Mobility, and PhD student Guoxi Feng. The overall objective is to control the power supplied by the electrical motor of the wheelchair, so as to push (or brake) together with the user without taking over entirely. This ensures that the user can achieve their driving task but still keeps them active. Specific tasks, each of which could be handled by a student, include:

  • Estimating the forces at the shoulder of a person during his moving in wheelchair. To achieve this goal, an observer has to be designed from a mechanical model of the upper body of the person and from experimentations on a wheelchair.
  • Estimating the fatigue level of the user, using a fatigue model together with observations of the wheel velocities.
  • Based on estimated user variables, optimal control of the wheelchair assistance. We use reinforcement learning to compensate the unknown dynamics of the user.

We are looking for motivated students, able to invest themselves fully into this project. Familiarity with Matlab programming is mandatory. Experience with mechanical systems, as well as some French skills, are a plus. Erasmus mobilities to France are desirable, to work directly at the lab in Valenciennes. Interested students should apply by contacting the persons mentioned below.

Start date (duration): 
October, 2017
Project status and type: