Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Intelligent wheelchairs, predictive prostheses

20.12.2017

Radar technology helps patients with limited mobility

If you use a wheelchair or have a prosthetic leg, small obstacles can become insurmountable barriers. Now, researchers at Fraunhofer IPA have developed a way to detect uneven ground, tiered levels or steps using radar. The information gained can be employed in orthopedic technology to control and stabilize prostheses or wheelchairs.


Radar-on-Chip-Sensor

Fraunhofer IPA, Foto: Rainer Bez


Intelligent wheelchair

Human Engineering Research Laboratories HERL, University of Pittsbourgh

Stairs, stony paths and tiered levels – for wheelchair users, these obstacles are often insurmountable. This can also be dangerous for people with leg prostheses as an artificial limb cannot make compensatory movements, unlike a natural knee joint or ankle joint.

Bernhard Kleinert from the Biomechanical Systems Department at Fraunhofer IPA: »The research aimed to turn wheelchairs and prostheses into intelligent systems.« He and his team developed a sensor system that helps to recognize obstacles in good time and overcome them.

Small, light, energy-efficient: radar-on-chip

The central element of this new technology consists in using radar-on-chip sensors to scan the environment. Radar chips have several advantages over ultrasonic or laser sensors (which are traditionally used to control robots): They are significantly lighter and smaller, so they are particularly well suited to applications centered on mobility, and they also function outside of closed spaces. This is a huge advantage for use in orthopedic technology, since patients should be able to use the new features in as many scenarios as possible.

However, these inexpensive radar chips do have a disadvantage: They only have one antenna, which both sends out signals and receives the reflected radar signals. With this configuration, only objects that are directly hit by the radar beam are visible. This means that the reading is only one‑dimensional, which is not enough to locate obstacles.

Signal processing opens up new dimensions

Bernhard’s team used a trick to create a two-dimensional image from the one-dimensional readings. The project leader explains: »Similar to a laser scanner, which scans different points on a surface, we combine several reflections from different perspectives.«

The different perspectives occur almost spontaneously when the radar sensor is moved, for instance when someone wearing a prosthetic limb equipped with a sensor moves. Generating different perspectives is much more complicated when it comes to the sensor integrated into a wheelchair. Here, a mirror helps to direct the radar beam this way and that. With the different readings generated, an algorithm developed by Fraunhofer IPA creates a 2D image of the surrounding, which can be used to precisely locate the obstacle down to a few centimeters.

International collaborations

The experts at Fraunhofer IPA have already patented the procedure. Together with Icelandic company Össur, a leading prosthesis manufacturer, they are now exploring how electronic control of leg prostheses can be improved using the radar images.

In a research project with the Human Engineering Research Laboratories HERL of the University of Pittsburgh in America, Fraunhofer engineers are developing an intelligent wheelchair with movable wheel joints that can even overcome stairs.

Press communication
Jörg-Dieter Walz | Telephone +49 711 970-1667 | presse@ipa.fraunhofer.de

Specialist partner
Bernhard Kleiner | Telephone +49 711 970-3718 | bernhard.kleiner@ipa.fraunhofer.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.ipa.fraunhofer.de/en/press/radar-technology-helps-patients-with-limit...

Jörg Walz | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht New technology for ultra-smooth polymer films
28.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP

nachricht Diamond watch components
18.06.2018 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>