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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Feedback Control for a Smart Wheelchair Trainer Based on the Kinect Sensor

  • Author(s): Darling, Aurelia McLaughlin
  • Advisor(s): Reinkensmeyer, David
  • et al.
Abstract

This thesis describes a Microsoft Kinect-based feedback controller for a robot-assisted powered wheelchair trainer for children with a severe motor and/or cognitive disability. In one training mode, "computer gaming" mode, the wheelchair is allowed to rotate left and right while the children use a joystick to play video games shown on a screen in front of them. This enables them to learn the use of the joystick in a motivating environment, while experiencing the sensation and dynamics of turning in a safe setting. During initial pilot testing of the device, it was found that the wheelchair would creep forward while children were playing the games. This thesis presents a mathematical model of the wheelchair dynamics that explains the origin of the creep as a center of gravity offset from the wheel axis or a mismatch of the torques applied to the chair. Given these possible random perturbations, a feedback controller was developed to cancel these effects, correcting the system creep. The controller uses a Microsoft Kinect sensor to detect the distance to the screen displaying the computer game, as well as the left-right position (parallel parking concept) with respect to the screen, and then adjusts the wheel torque commands based on this measurement. We show through experimental testing that this controller effectively stops the creep. An added benefit of the feedback controller is that it approximates a washout filter, such as those used in aircraft simulators, to convey a more realistic sense of forward/backward motion during game play.

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