The Rehab Technologies Lab, at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), Genova, Italy, is seeking to appoint one Postdoctoral Researcher to carry out research on the control of lower limb prosthetic systems.
Rehab Technologies Lab is an innovation lab jointly created by IIT and INAIL to develop new high tech prosthetic, orthotic and rehabilitation devices of high social impact and market potential. The Lab is primarily focused on disability and rehabilitation, and exploits a co-creation process which involves scientists, patients and therapists in all the phases of the design, realization and testing of devices developed within the lab.
State-of-the-art lower limb prosthetic systems generally employ semi-active technologies (so-called ‘electronic’ prostheses). These typically use inertial sensors, force sensors and encoders to estimate the configuration of the user during gait and activity being performed, and use this information to control the mechanical impedance of the joint. Active prostheses are similarly feedback controlled, but also provide an active power boost/assist to the patient for tasks which otherwise would be difficult or impossible. Thus, the control algorithm must detect the patient’s activity and phase of gait, and appropriately modulate actuator power to execute a diverse range of tasks.
Control design that satisfies the expectations and needs of the patient will be a key differentiating factor for advanced prostheses, we also believe that achieving the goals of safety, predictability, naturalness (biomimicry) and personalization will require a comprehensive integration of the fields of human-machine interaction (HMI), and control system design. This could lead to improvements in, for example, prosthesis functionalities (e.g. by reducing the articular stress of the user/prosthesis, and by realizing biomechanics that can mimic that of a healthy subject).
The aim of this project is to develop novel control architectures and control strategies to display required volitional and reflex behavior with the characteristics of safety/robustness, fluidity, predictability, and reduced training time for the patients. These algorithms are going to be tested on the range of prosthetic prototypes based on novel active and semi-active technologies we are currently developing in-house. This will contribute to the technical progress of the IIT experimental prosthetic devices, which will be evaluated by means of bench tests, biomechanical prototypes, and tested on amputee patients.
The project will be carried out at the Rehab Technologies Lab of IIT. It will be a technological challenge in which the Rehab Technologies team will share resources, competencies and motivation to achieve excellent results transferable to the medical field.