FMG- and RNN-Based Estimation of Motor Intention of Upper-Limb Motion in Human-Robot Collaboration

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Frontiers in Robotics and AI




collision avoidance, force myography, human-robot collaboration, industrial robot, recurrent neural network


Research on human-robot interactions has been driven by the increasing employment of robotic manipulators in manufacturing and production. Toward developing more effective human-robot collaboration during shared tasks, this paper proposes an interaction scheme by employing machine learning algorithms to interpret biosignals acquired from the human user and accordingly planning the robot reaction. More specifically, a force myography (FMG) band was wrapped around the user's forearm and was used to collect information about muscle contractions during a set of collaborative tasks between the user and an industrial robot. A recurrent neural network model was trained to estimate the user's hand movement pattern based on the collected FMG data to determine whether the performed motion was random or intended as part of the predefined collaborative tasks. Experimental evaluation during two practical collaboration scenarios demonstrated that the trained model could successfully estimate the category of hand motion, i.e., intended or random, such that the robot either assisted with performing the task or changed its course of action to avoid collision. Furthermore, proximity sensors were mounted on the robotic arm to investigate if monitoring the distance between the user and the robot had an effect on the outcome of the collaborative effort. While further investigation is required to rigorously establish the safety of the human worker, this study demonstrates the potential of FMG-based wearable technologies to enhance human-robot collaboration in industrial settings.