Assistive Mobility Technology

Waterloo Robotic Rollator (WatRR)

In Ontario alone, over 40,000 new rollators (or 4-wheeled walkers) are subsidized publicly at an annual cost of $16M. Despite the recommended use to address gait and balance disorders, ~50% are abandoned for reasons associated with usability, such as poor maneuverability, difficulty using brakes, and limited accessibility. The NRE Lab aim to develop new mechatronic features (e.g., intelligent braking, active assistance) to improve safety and effectiveness of rollator devices while promoting safe mobility.

a diagram of Waterloo Robotic Rollator and explaination on its components

Dynamic Transtibial Prosthetic Socket

Of the 7,500 lower-limb amputations occurring in Canada each year, an estimated 70-85% arise from complications associated with diabetes and/or vascular disease. Considering diabetic amputees are prone to impaired tactile sensation (i.e., neuropathy), users have difficulty perceiving socket fit leading to increased risk of pressure ulcers, gait instability, device abandonment, and even revision amputation. This program of research aims to develop new sensing methods to indicate socket fit and novel actuation methods to dynamically adjust socket fit under real-world conditions.

Prosthetic socket with Simon

Lower-limb exoskeleton

Current exoskeleton controls rely heavily on embedded sensors, principally joint position encoders, ground contact forces, and/or user-robot interaction torques. While these systems have focused on optimizing low-level joint control for specific task modes (i.e., sitting, standing, walking), high-level switching between modes requires manual control. In this research theme, we aim to advance high-level exoskeleton control by investigating measurement and estimation of user intention and environmental context using brain-machine interfaces and multimodal sensors.

Lab member wearing an exoskeleton