Conference paper Open Access

A Real-time Tool for Human Ergonomics Assessment based on Joint Compressive Forces

Fortini, Luca; Lorenzini, Marta; Kim, Wansoo; De Momi, Elena; Ajoudani, Arash

The objective of this paper is to present a  mathematical tool for real-time tracking of whole-body compressive forces induced by external physical solicitations.  This tool extends and enriches our recently introduced ergonomics monitoring system to asses the level of risk associated with human physical activities in human-robot collaboration contexts. The methods developed so far only considered the effect of the external loads on joint torque variations. However, even for negligible values of the joint torque overloadings (e.g., in singular configurations), the effect of compressive forces, defined by the internal/pushing forces among body links, can be significant. 
Accordingly, we propose the joint compressive forces as an additional real-time index for the assessment of human ergonomics. First, a simulation study is performed to validate the method. Then, follows a laboratory study on five subjects to compare the trend of the joint compressive forces with muscle activities. Results demonstrate the significance of the proposed index in the development of a comprehensive human ergonomics monitoring framework. Based on such a framework, robotic strategies as well as feedback interfaces can be employed to guide and optimise the human movement toward more convenient body configurations thus avoiding pain and consequent injuries.

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