Wearable device developed to control mobile manipulators

March 22, 2023

A newly developed head-worn device allows users with movement disorders and paralysis to better control mobile manipulators, thus improving quality of life and increasing personal autonomy.

More than five million people in the United States live with some form of paralysis and may encounter difficulties completing everyday tasks, like grabbing a glass of water or putting on clothes. 

New research from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute (RI) aims to increase autonomy for individuals with such motor impairments by introducing a head-worn device that will help them control a mobile manipulator. 

Teleoperated mobile manipulators can aid individuals in completing daily activities, but many existing technologies like hand-operated joysticks or web interfaces require a user to have substantial fine motor skills to effectively control them. 

Research led by robotics Ph.D. student Akhil Padmanabha offers a new device equipped with a hands-free microphone and head-worn sensor that allows users to control a mobile robot via head motion and speech recognition. 

Head-Worn Assistive Teleoperation (HAT) requires fewer fine motor skills than other interfaces, offering an alternative for users who face constraints with technology currently on the market. 

CMU release