A new perspective paper published on Frontiers on Neurorobotics

A human-robot interaction perspective on assistive and rehabilitation robotics

Philipp Beckerle, Gionata Salvietti, Ramazan Unal, Domenico Prattichizzo, Simone Rossi, Claudio Castellini, Sandra Hirche, Satoshi Endo, Heni Ben Amor, Matei Ciocarlie, Fulvio Mastrogiovanni, Brenna D. Argall and Matteo Bianchi

Abstract Assistive and rehabilitation devices are a promising and challenging field of recent robotics research. Motivated by societal needs such as aging populations, such devices can support motor functionality and subject training. The design, control, sensing and assessment of the devices become more sophisticated due to a human in the loop. This paper gives a human-robot interaction perspective on current issues and opportunities in the field. On the topic of control and machine learning, approaches that support but do not distract subjects are reviewed.  Options to provide sensory user-feedback that are currently missing from robotic devices are outlined. Parallels between device acceptance and affective computing are made. Furthermore, requirements for functional assessment protocols that relate to real-world tasks are discussed. In all topic areas, the design of human-oriented frameworks and methods is dominated by challenges related to the close interaction between the human and robotic device. This paper discusses the aforementioned aspects in order to open up new perspectives for future robotic solutions.
A human-robot interaction perspective on assistive and rehabilitation robotics. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316735448_A_human-robot_interaction_perspective_on_assistive_and_rehabilitation_robotics

Our paper on wearable haptics for Augmented reality is the most popular article in IEEE Transactions on Haptics

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New Review paper “Haptic Feedback for Microrobotics Applications: A Review” on Frontiers in Robotics and AI

A new article has been published on Frontiers in Robotics and AI.

C. Pacchierotti, S. Scheggi, D. Prattichizzo, S. Misra. “Haptic feedback for microrobotics applications: a review. Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 3(53), 2016.

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Full article: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/frobt.2016.00053/full

SIRSLab uses MATLAB® and Simulink® for grasp analysis of human and robotic hands

Researchers and students of SIRSLab of Univerisity of Siena use MATLAB® and Simulink® for grasp analysis of human and robotic hands.

Here’s the link to the video of Professor Prattichizzo explaining the job of our team: MathWorks Video.


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Paper on “THE” Project published on Physics of Life Reviews

An article summarising the results of the four years EU project “The Hand Embodied – THE “ has been published on the prestigious journal Physics of Life Reviews. Here the link to the article. As University of Siena, we have contributed to the modelling of hand synergies and we have studied a systematic way to transfer human hand skills onto robotic hands. These results can be found here.

Abstract of the paper

The term ‘synergy’ – from the Greek synergia – means ‘working together’. The concept of multiple elements working together towards a common goal has been extensively used in neuroscience to develop theoretical frameworks, experimental approaches, and analytical techniques to understand neural control of movement, and for applications for neuro- rehabilitation. In the past decade, roboticists have successfully applied the framework of synergies to create novel design and control concepts for artificial hands, i.e., robotic hands and prostheses. At the same time, robotic research on the sensorimotor integration underlying the control and sensing of artificial hands has inspired new research approaches in neuroscience, and has provided useful instruments for novel experiments.

The ambitious goal of integrating expertise and research approaches in robotics and neuroscience to study the properties and applications of the concept of synergies is generating a number of multidisciplinary cooperative projects, among which the recently finished 4-year European project “The Hand Embodied” (THE). This paper reviews the main insights provided by this framework. Specifically, we provide an overview of neuroscientific bases of hand synergies and introduce how robotics has leveraged the insights from neuroscience for innovative design in hardware and controllers for biomedical engineering applications, including myoelectric hand prostheses, devices for haptics research, and wearable sensing of human hand kinematics. The review also emphasizes how this multidisciplinary collaboration has generated new ways to conceptualize a synergy-based approach for robotics, and provides guidelines and principles for analyzing human behavior and synthesizing artificial robotic systems based on a theory of synergies.

Creating an artificial sense of touch through electrical stimuli


A study led by neuroscientists from UChicago shows that artificial touch is highly dependent on several features of electrical stimuli, such as the strength and frequency of signals, and describes the specific characteristics of these signals.

Source: Creating an artificial sense of touch through electrical stimuli 

New paper published on The International Journal of Robotics Research: “Cutaneous haptic feedback to ensure the stability of robotic teleoperation systems”

Cutaneous haptic feedback can be used to enhance the performance of robotic teleoperation systems while guaranteeing their safety. Delivering ungrounded cutaneous cues to the human operator conveys in fact information about the forces exerted at the slave side and does not affect the stability of the control loop.

In this work we analyze the feasibility, effectiveness, and implications of providing solely cutaneous feedback in robotic teleoperation.

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We carried out two peg-in-hole experiments, both in a virtual environment and in a real (teleoperated) environment. Two novel 3-degree-of-freedom fingertip cutaneous displays deliver a suitable amount of cutaneous feedback at the thumb and index fingers. Results assessed the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed approach.


Cutaneous feedback was outperformed by full haptic feedback provided by grounded haptic interfaces, but it outperformed conditions providing no force feedback at all. Moreover, cutaneous feedback always kept the system stable, even in the presence of destabilizing factors such as communication delays and hard contacts.

Video: https://youtu.be/mQ8AYmNUBFo
PDF: http://sirslab.dii.unisi.it/papers/2015/Pacchierotti.IJRR.2015.Subtraction.pdf

C. Pacchierotti, L. Meli, F. Chinello, M. Malvezzi, D. Prattichizzo. Cutaneous haptic feedback to ensure the stability of robotic teleoperation systems. International Journal of Robotics Research, 2015. doi: 10.1177/0278364915603135.pdf