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Ulster-India Teams Probe How Robotics Can Help People With Disabilities

Scientists from the University of Ulster and the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur have teamed up to investigate how to develop intelligent robotic devices to help people with severe disabilities achieve greater independence.

The project involves researchers from Ulster’s Intelligent Systems Research Centre on its Magee campus in Londonderry, and scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology.

The three-year project is jointly funded by the Indian and UK Governments under the prestigious UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI). UKIERI grant-aids collaborative projects between higher educational institutions in the UK and India.?

Dr. Girijesh Prasad, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, who leads the project team, said:

“Thousands of people suffering from neuro-muscular disabilities such as motor neurone disease (MND) and spinal cord injury (SCI), may be completely paralysed.

"While these people have all their senses intact to see, feel and dream, they may have no means of communicating with the external world at all. In order to provide greater independence to such people, the project aims to investigate intelligent systems that facilitate development of a low-cost assistive robotic device.”

The main project objectives are to investigate:

• a brain-computer interface (BCI) that allows a disabled person to control a smart wheelchair and robotic manipulator combination by thinking;

• a visual tracking system for operating the wheelchair as an automated guided vehicle (AGV) to provide mobility;

• the development of a robotic arm for the natural execution of actions desired by the disabled user.

This project involves the recruitment of three new postgraduate research students to assist in the joint programme of research. It also includes intensive research exchanges between the two institutions by Ulster and IIT Kanpur researchers, and senior research students. This innovative project is expected to expedite improvements in the lives of persons with movement disability due to old age, disease or injury.

Professor Martin McGinnity, Director of the Intelligent Systems Research Centre, said: “We are delighted to have been successful in gaining this award. There is intense competition for UKIERI research funds and our success is thus all the more pleasing. The project itself addresses important technical and medical issues and we are looking forward to a fruitful collaboration with one of the most prestigious research institutions in India.”

The three-year £145,000 project is jointly funded by the Indian and UK Governments under the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI).

UKIERI grant-aids collaborative projects between higher educational institutions in the UK and India.

David Young | alfa
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