Environment Classification for Robotic Leg Prostheses and Exoskeletons using Deep Convolutional Neural Networks

TitleEnvironment Classification for Robotic Leg Prostheses and Exoskeletons using Deep Convolutional Neural Networks
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsLaschowski, B., W. McNally, A. Wong, and J. McPhee
JournalFrontiers in Neurorobotics
Date Published02/2022
KeywordsArtificial Intelligence, Biomechatronics, Computer Vision, Deep Learning, ExoNet, Exoskeletons, Prosthetics, Rehabilitation Robotics, wearables

Robotic leg prostheses and exoskeletons can provide powered locomotor assistance to older adults and/or persons with physical disabilities. However, the current locomotion mode recognition systems being developed for automated high-level control and decision-making rely on mechanical, inertial, and/or neuromuscular sensors, which inherently have limited prediction horizons (i.e., analogous to walking blindfolded). Inspired by the human vision-locomotor control system, we developed an environment classification system powered by computer vision and deep learning to predict the oncoming walking environments prior to physical interaction, therein allowing for more accurate and robust high-level control decisions. In this study, we first reviewed the development of our “ExoNet” database—the largest and most diverse open-source dataset of wearable camera images of indoor and outdoor real-world walking environments, which were annotated using a hierarchical labeling architecture. We then trained and tested over a dozen state-of-the-art deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) on the ExoNet database for image classification and automatic feature engineering, including: EfficientNetB0, InceptionV3, MobileNet, MobileNetV2, VGG16, VGG19, Xception, ResNet50, ResNet101, ResNet152, DenseNet121, DenseNet169, and DenseNet201. Finally, we quantitatively compared the benchmarked CNN architectures and their environment classification predictions using an operational metric called “NetScore,” which balances the image classification accuracy with the computational and memory storage requirements (i.e., important for onboard real-time inference with mobile computing devices). Our comparative analyses showed that the EfficientNetB0 network achieves the highest test accuracy; VGG16 the fastest inference time; and MobileNetV2 the best NetScore, which can inform the optimal architecture design or selection depending on the desired performance. Overall, this study provides a large-scale benchmark and reference for next-generation environment classification systems for robotic leg prostheses and exoskeletons.

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