Mechanical Engineering - Research Publications

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    Flexible mechanical metamaterials enabling soft tactile sensors with multiple sensitivities at multiple force sensing ranges
    Mohammadi, A ; Tan, Y ; Choong, P ; Oetomo, D (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2021-12-16)
    The majority of existing tactile sensors are designed to measure a particular range of force with a fixed sensitivity. However, some applications require tactile sensors with multiple task-relevant sensitivities at multiple ranges of force sensing. Inspired by the human tactile sensing capability, this paper proposes a novel soft tactile sensor based on mechanical metamaterials which exhibits multiple sensitivity regimes due to the step-by-step locking behaviour of its heterogenous multi-layered structure. By tuning the geometrical design parameters of the collapsible layers, each layer experiences locking behaviour under different ranges of force which provides different sensitivity of the sensor at different force magnitude. The integration of a magnetic-based transduction method with the proposed structure results in high design degrees of freedom for realising the desired contact force sensitivities and corresponding force sensing ranges. A systematic design procedure is proposed to select appropriate design parameters to produce the desired characteristics. Two example designs of the sensor structure were fabricated using widely available benchtop 3D printers and tested for their performance. The results showed the capability of the sensor in providing the desired characteristics in terms of sensitivity and force range and being realised in different shapes, sizes and number of layers in a single structure. The proposed multi-sensitivity soft tactile sensor has a great potential to be used in a wide variety of applications where different sensitivities of force measurement is required at different ranges of force magnitudes, from robotic manipulation and human-machine interaction to biomedical engineering and health-monitoring.
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    On Singular Perturbation for a Class of Discrete-Time Nonlinear Systems in the Presence of Limit Cycles of Fast Dynamics
    LIU, H ; Tan, Y ; Bacek, T ; SUN, M ; Chen, Z ; Kulic, D ; Oetomo, D (IEEE, 2022)
    This paper extends the existing singular perturbation results to a class of nonlinear discrete-time systems whose fast dynamics have limit cycles. By introducing the discrete-time reduced averaged system, the main result (Theorem 1) shows that for a given fixed time interval, the solutions of the original system can be made arbitrarily close to the solutions of the reduced averaged system and the boundary layer system. From this result, the stability properties of the original system are obtained from the stability properties of the reduced averaged system and the boundary layer system. Simulation results support the theoretical findings.
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    Varying Joint Patterns and Compensatory Strategies Can Lead to the Same Functional Gait Outcomes: A Case Study
    Bacek, T ; SUN, M ; LIU, H ; Chen, Z ; Kulic, D ; Oetomo, D ; Tan, Y (IEEE, 2022)
    This paper analyses joint-space walking mechanisms and redundancies in delivering functional gait outcomes. Multiple biomechanical measures are analysed for two healthy male adults who participated in a multi-factorial study and walked during three sessions. Both participants employed varying intra- and inter-personal compensatory strategies (e.g., vaulting, hip hiking) across walking conditions and exhibited notable gait pattern alterations while keeping task-space (functional) gait parameters invariant. They also preferred various levels of asymmetric step length but kept their symmetric step time consistent and cadence-invariant during free walking. The results demonstrate the importance of an individualised approach and the need for a paradigm shift from functional (task-space) to joint-space gait analysis in attending to (a)typical gaits and delivering human-centred human-robot interaction.
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    Psychometric Evaluation of Multi-Point Bone-Conducted Tactile Stimulation on the Three Bony Landmarks of the Elbow
    Mayer, RM ; Mohammadi, A ; Tan, Y ; Alici, G ; Choong, P ; Oetomo, D (IEEE, 2020-01-01)
    Sensory feedback is highly desirable in upper limb prostheses as well as in human robot interaction and other human machine interfaces. Bone conduction as sensory feedback interface is a recently studied approach showing promising properties. A combination of different feedback information is often necessary for prosthetic grasping, thus multiple feedback channels are required for effective sensory feedback. The use of multiple bone conduction stimulation sites simultaneously has not yet been studied. In this paper, the psychometric evaluation of multiple stimulation sites on the physiologically given bony landmarks on the elbow is investigated. The proposed approach is evaluated on human-subject experiments with six able-bodied subjects and one subject with transradial amputation. Vibrotactile transducers are placed on the bony landmarks of the elbow to determine the identification rate of each stimulation point separately as well as the identification rate of the number of active stimulation points for different frequencies. The outcomes show high identification rates for a frequency range from 100 to 750 Hz whilst performance deteriorates to at chance level at higher frequencies. A decreasing performance in identifying the number of active stimulation sites for an increasing number of simultaneous active transducers was observed. The obtained good performance in location identification suggests that information can be encoded via the location of the stimulation.
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    On the Efficiency of Haptic Based Object Identification: Determining Where to Grasp to Get the Most Distinguishing Information
    Xia, Y ; Mohammadi, A ; Tan, Y ; Chen, B ; Choong, P ; Oetomo, D (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-07-29)
    Haptic perception is one of the key modalities in obtaining physical information of objects and in object identification. Most existing literature focused on improving the accuracy of identification algorithms with less attention paid to the efficiency. This work aims to investigate the efficiency of haptic object identification to reduce the number of grasps required to correctly identify an object out of a given object set. Thus, in a case where multiple grasps are required to characterise an object, the proposed algorithm seeks to determine where the next grasp should be on the object to obtain the most amount of distinguishing information. As such, the paper proposes the construction of the object description that preserves the association of the spatial information and the haptic information on the object. A clustering technique is employed both to construct the description of the object in a data set and for the identification process. An information gain (IG) based method is then employed to determine which pose would yield the most distinguishing information among the remaining possible candidates in the object set to improve the efficiency of the identification process. This proposed algorithm is validated experimentally. A Reflex TakkTile robotic hand with integrated joint displacement and tactile sensors is used to perform both the data collection for the dataset and the object identification procedure. The proposed IG approach was found to require a significantly lower number of grasps to identify the objects compared to a baseline approach where the decision was made by random choice of grasps.
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    Effective Assessments of a Short-Duration Poor Posture on Upper Limb Muscle Fatigue Before Physical Exercise
    Lu, L ; Robinson, M ; Tan, Y ; Goonewardena, K ; Guo, X ; Mareels, I ; Oetomo, D (Frontiers Media, 2020-10-06)
    A forward head and rounded shoulder posture is a poor posture that is widely seen in everyday life. It is known that sitting in such a poor posture with long hours will bring health issues such as muscle pain. However, it is not known whether sitting in this poor posture for a short period of time will affect human activities. This paper investigates the effects of a short-duration poor posture before some typical physical activities such as push-ups. The experiments are set up as follows. Fourteen male subjects are asked to do push-ups until fatigue with two surface electromyography (sEMG) at the upper limb. Two days later, they are asked to sit in this poor posture for 15 min with eight sEMG sensors located at given back muscles. Then they do the push-ups after the short-duration poor posture. The observations from the median frequency of sEMG signals at the upper limb indicate that the short-duration poor posture does affect the fatigue procedure of push-ups. A significant decreasing trend of the performance of push-ups is obtained after sitting in this poor posture. Such effects indicate that some parts of the back muscles indeed get fatigued with only 15 min sitting in this poor posture. By further investigating the time-frequency components of sEMG of back muscles, it is observed that the low and middle frequencies of sEMG signals from the infraspinatus muscle of the dominant side are demonstrated to be more prone to fatigue with the poor posture. Although this study focuses only on push-ups, similar experiments can be arranged for other physical exercises as well. This study provides new insights into the effect of a short-duration poor posture before physical activities. These insights can be used to guide athletes to pay attention to postures before physical activities to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
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    Magnetic-based Soft Tactile Sensors with Deformable Continuous Force Transfer Medium for Resolving Contact Locations in Robotic Grasping and Manipulation
    Mohammadi, A ; Xu, Y ; Tan, Y ; Choong, P ; Oetomo, D (MDPI, 2019-11-01)
    The resolution of contact location is important in many applications in robotics and automation. This is generally done by using an array of contact or tactile receptors, which increases cost and complexity as the required resolution or area is increased. Tactile sensors have also been developed using a continuous deformable medium between the contact and the receptors, which allows few receptors to interpolate the information among them, avoiding the weakness highlighted in the former approach. The latter is generally used to measure contact force intensity or magnitude but rarely used to identify the contact locations. This paper presents a systematic design and characterisation procedure for magnetic-based soft tactile sensors (utilizing the latter approach with the deformable contact medium) with the goal of locating the contact force location. This systematic procedure provides conditions under which design parameters can be selected, supported by a selected machine learning algorithm, to achieve the desired performance of the tactile sensor in identifying the contact location. An illustrative example, which combines a particular sensor configuration (magnetic hall effect sensor as the receptor, a selected continuous medium and a selected sensing resolution) and a specific data-driven algorithm, is used to illustrate the proposed design procedure. The results of the illustrative example design demonstrates the efficacy of the proposed design procedure and the proposed sensing strategy in identifying a contact location. The resulting sensor is also tested on a robotic hand (Allegro Hand, SimLab Co) to demonstrate its application in real-world scenarios.
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    A practical 3D-printed soft robotic prosthetic hand with multi-articulating capabilities
    Mohammadi, A ; Lavranos, J ; Zhou, H ; Mutlu, R ; Alici, G ; Tan, Y ; Choong, P ; Oetomo, D ; Connal, L (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2020-05-14)
    Soft robotic hands with monolithic structure have shown great potential to be used as prostheses due to their advantages to yield light weight and compact designs as well as its ease of manufacture. However, existing soft prosthetic hands design were often not geared towards addressing some of the practical requirements highlighted in prosthetics research. The gap between the existing designs and the practical requirements significantly hampers the potential to transfer these designs to real-world applications. This work addressed these requirements with the consideration of the trade-off between practicality and performance. These requirements were achieved through exploiting the monolithic 3D printing of soft materials which incorporates membrane enclosed flexure joints in the finger designs, synergy-based thumb motion and cable-driven actuation system in the proposed hand prosthesis. Our systematic design (tentatively named X-Limb) achieves a weight of 253gr, three grasps types (with capability of individual finger movement), power-grip force of 21.5N, finger flexion speed of 1.3sec, a minimum grasping cycles of 45,000 (while maintaining its original functionality) and a bill of material cost of 200 USD (excluding quick disconnect wrist but without factoring in the cost reduction through mass production). A standard Activities Measure for Upper-Limb Amputees benchmark test was carried out to evaluate the capability of X-Limb in performing grasping task required for activities of daily living. The results show that all the practical design requirements are satisfied, and the proposed soft prosthetic hand is able to perform all the real-world grasping tasks of the benchmark tests, showing great potential in improving life quality of individuals with upper limb loss.
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    Tactile Feedback in Closed-Loop Control of Myoelectric Hand Grasping: Conveying Information of Multiple Sensors Simultaneously via a Single Feedback Channel.
    Mayer, RM ; Garcia-Rosas, R ; Mohammadi, A ; Tan, Y ; Alici, G ; Choong, P ; Oetomo, D (Frontiers Research Foundation, 2020-04-27)
    The appropriate sensory information feedback is important for the success of an object grasping and manipulation task. In many scenarios, the need arises for multiple feedback information to be conveyed to a prosthetic hand user simultaneously. The multiple sets of information may either (1) directly contribute to the performance of the grasping or object manipulation task, such as the feedback of the grasping force, or (2) simply form additional independent set(s) of information. In this paper, the efficacy of simultaneously conveying two independent sets of sensor information (the grasp force and a secondary set of information) through a single channel of feedback stimulation (vibrotactile via bone conduction) to the human user in a prosthetic application is investigated. The performance of the grasping task is not dependent to the second set of information in this study. Subject performance in two tasks: regulating the grasp force and identifying the secondary information, were evaluated when provided with either one corresponding information or both sets of feedback information. Visual feedback is involved in the training stage. The proposed approach is validated on human-subject experiments using a vibrotactile transducer worn on the elbow bony landmark (to realize a non-invasive bone conduction interface) carried out in a virtual reality environment to perform a closed-loop object grasping task. The experimental results show that the performance of the human subjects on either task, whilst perceiving two sets of sensory information, is not inferior to that when receiving only one set of corresponding sensory information, demonstrating the potential of conveying a second set of information through a bone conduction interface in an upper limb prosthetic task.
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    Learning control in robot-assisted rehabilitation of motor skills–a review
    Zhou, SH ; Fong, J ; Crocher, V ; Tan, Y ; Oetomo, D ; Mareels, I (Informa UK Limited, 2016-01-02)