Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Improving large workspace precision manipulation through use of an active handrest
by Fehlberg, Mark Allan, Ph.D., The University of Utah, 2014, 127; 3619812
Abstract (Summary)

Humans generally have difficulty performing precision tasks with their unsupported hands. To compensate for this difficulty, people often seek to support or rest their hand and arm on a fixed surface. However, when the precision task needs to be performed over a workspace larger than what can be reached from a fixed position, a fixed support is no longer useful.

This dissertation describes the development of the Active Handrest, a device that expands its user's dexterous workspace by providing ergonomic support and precise repositioning motions over a large workspace. The prototype Active Handrest is a planar computer-controlled support for the user's hand and arm. The device can be controlled through force input from the user, position input from a grasped tool, or a combination of inputs. The control algorithm of the Active Handrest converts the input(s) into device motions through admittance control where the device's desired velocity is calculated proportionally to the input force or its equivalent.

A robotic 2-axis admittance device was constructed as the initial Planar Active Handrest, or PAHR, prototype. Experiments were conducted to optimize the device's control input strategies. Large workspace shape tracing experiments were used to compare the PAHR to unsupported, fixed support, and passive moveable support conditions. The Active Handrest was found to reduce task error and provide better speed-accuracy performance.

Next, virtual fixture strategies were explored for the device. From the options considered, a virtual spring fixture strategy was chosen based on its effectiveness. An experiment was conducted to compare the PAHR with its virtual fixture strategy to traditional virtual fixture techniques for a grasped stylus. Virtual fixtures implemented on the Active Handrest were found to be as effective as fixtures implemented on a grasped tool.

Finally, a higher degree-of-freedom Enhanced Planar Active Handrest, or E-PAHR, was constructed to provide support for large workspace precision tasks while more closely following the planar motions of the human arm. Experiments were conducted to investigate appropriate control strategies and device utility. The E-PAHR was found to provide a skill level equal to that of the PAHR with reduced user force input and lower perceived exertion.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Provancher, William
Commitee: Abbott, Jake, Bloswick, Donald, Johnson, David, Kieda, David
School: The University of Utah
Department: Mechanical Engineering
School Location: United States -- Utah
Source: DAI-B 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Mechanical engineering, Robotics
Keywords: Adaptive control, Admittance control, Assistive devices, Haptic interfaces, Human performance augmentation, Human-robot interaction
Publication Number: 3619812
ISBN: 9781303893377
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