The objective of the PMMA working group is to specify a new generation of mobile, sensor-assisted handling systems for domestic use by handicapped and elderly people. A flexible, modular control system with an open architecture will enable control of a variety of electrical and electronic aids via a uniform interface that can be customised to cope with particular disabilities and adapted for different tasks.
The system envisaged consists of a wheelchair, a robot service-arm and facilities for environmental control. The system would be fitted out with sensors for navigation and manipulation, including a vision system, and could either be operated with the user "on-board", or as a stationary robot assistant. The functionality would include direct, sensor-assisted or semi-autonomous navigation and telemanipulation, as well as environmental control. The uniform human-machine interface would be adaptable to the particular physical and mental disabilities of the user and to different applications.
With respect to this complex functionality of the system, consideration will be given to both the traditional and the behaviour-based approaches to robotics. The control system will be of hybrid design, reflecting different technologies employed in the vision system, robot arm, and wheelchair movement controller.
The working group is made up of teams from organisations with experience in industrial manufacturing, control systems, sensor systems, communications, robotics, mobile robots, and rehabilitation management.
The approach will involve an analysis of user requirements, technology studies, technology assessments, and consideration of integration concepts. The planned output is in an advanced system requirements specification that will include demonstrations of an omni-directional service arm, a sensory system and environmental control.
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NE66 1LN Alnwick