Robotics researchers at Waterloo Engineering are developing exoskeleton legs capable of thinking and making control decisions on their own using sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
The system combines computer vision and deep-learning AI to mimic how able-bodied people walk by seeing their surroundings and adjusting their movements.
“We’re giving robotic exoskeletons vision so they can control themselves,” said Brokoslaw Laschowski, a PhD candidate in systems design engineering who works in the Motion Research Group lab.
Exoskeleton legs operated by motors already exist, but they must be manually controlled by users via smartphone applications or joysticks.
“That can be inconvenient and cognitively demanding,” said Laschowski, also a student member of the Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute (Waterloo.ai). “Every time you want to perform a new locomotor activity, you have to stop, take out your smartphone and select the desired mode.”
To address that limitation, researchers working on the ExoNet project fitted exoskeleton users with wearable cameras and are now optimizing AI computer software to process the video feed to accurately recognize stairs, doors and other features of the surrounding environment.
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