Frontiers in Robotics and AI

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Objective: For transradial amputees, robotic prosthetic hands promise to regain the capability to perform daily living activities. Current control methods based on physiological signals such as electromyography (EMG) are prone to yielding poor inference outcomes due to motion artifacts, muscle fatigue, and many more. Vision sensors are a major source of information about the environment state and can play a vital role in inferring feasible and intended gestures. However, visual evidence is also susceptible to its own artifacts, most often due to object occlusion, lighting changes, etc. Multimodal evidence fusion using physiological and vision sensor measurements is a natural approach due to the complementary strengths of these modalities.

Methods: In this paper, we present a Bayesian evidence fusion framework for grasp intent inference using eye-view video, eye-gaze, and EMG from the forearm processed by neural network models. We analyze individual and fused performance as a function of time as the hand approaches the object to grasp it. For this purpose, we have also developed novel data processing and augmentation techniques to train neural network components.

Results: Our results indicate that, on average, fusion improves the instantaneous upcoming grasp type classification accuracy while in the reaching phase by 13.66% and 14.8%, relative to EMG (81.64% non-fused) and visual evidence (80.5% non-fused) individually, resulting in an overall fusion accuracy of 95.3%.

Conclusion: Our experimental data analyses demonstrate that EMG and visual evidence show complementary strengths, and as a consequence, fusion of multimodal evidence can outperform each individual evidence modality at any given time.

The robotics discipline is exploring precise and versatile solutions for upper-limb rehabilitation in Multiple Sclerosis (MS). People with MS can greatly benefit from robotic systems to help combat the complexities of this disease, which can impair the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs). In order to present the potential and the limitations of smart mechatronic devices in the mentioned clinical domain, this review is structured to propose a concise SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis of robotic rehabilitation in MS. Through the SWOT Analysis, a method mostly adopted in business management, this paper addresses both internal and external factors that can promote or hinder the adoption of upper-limb rehabilitation robots in MS. Subsequently, it discusses how the synergy with another category of interaction technologies - the systems underlying virtual and augmented environments - may empower Strengths, overcome Weaknesses, expand Opportunities, and handle Threats in rehabilitation robotics for MS. The impactful adaptability of these digital settings (extensively used in rehabilitation for MS, even to approach ADL-like tasks in safe simulated contexts) is the main reason for presenting this approach to face the critical issues of the aforementioned SWOT Analysis. This methodological proposal aims at paving the way for devising further synergistic strategies based on the integration of medical robotic devices with other promising technologies to help upper-limb functional recovery in MS.