Poster Open Access

User Testing of a Continuum Manipulator for Assistive Technology

Ryan Coulson; Max Kirkpatrick; Megan Robinson; Meghan Donahue; Devin R. Berg

The application of continuum manipulators as assistive robots is discussed and tested through the use of Bendy ARM, a tendon-driven continuum manipulator prototype. Two rounds of user testing were completed to evaluate the potential of this robot to aid disabled individuals in the completion of activities of daily living. In the first round of user testing, 14 able-bodied subjects successfully completed the prescribed task (pick-and-place) using multiple control schemes after being given a brief introduction and one minute of practice with each scheme. In the second round of user testing, subjects chosen from the first round of testing (n = 3) demonstrated between 29.45 and 48.91 percent improvement in completion time across three sessions (twelve trials total) of a peg-in-hole task, and between 8.39 and 33.81 percent improvement across two sessions (six trials total) of a task involving opening and closing a drawer. Based on these results, it is posited that continuum manipulators merit further consideration as a safer and more cost-effective alternative to existing commercially available assistive robotic manipulators.

National Science Foundation under Grant No. CNS-1560219
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