A report from the Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics: Assistance with Movements and Therapeutic Applications (Isir - Agathe) in Paris. The objective of the Agathe team is to assist human movements using robotic devices.
In the Agathe (Assistance to Gesture with Applications to THErapy) team, a strange experiment is taking place: a three-armed man is trying to reach a yellow target with one hand! In reality, Étienne de Montalivet is a research engineer in robotics and his third arm is actually a robotic prosthesis intended for use by amputees.
The point of the exercise? Evaluate his ability to control the movements of this prosthesis. But above all: invent the prosthetics of the future – which will be even more efficient. "These days, robots are deployed almost everywhere in our societies. For a long time, they were seen as a simple tool to replace humans when doing such and such a task. Here the aim is for robots to work with humans", explains Guillaume Morel, director of the team located at the Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics – which obtained the Inserm labeled in 2014.
For the thirty or so people working there, this approach offers great therapeutic potential: neuromotor rehabilitation in the event of stroke, for example, could be more effective if the patient were equipped with a robotic exoskeleton which does not impose movements that he or she would have trouble performing, but rather assists and corrects gradually. "To do that we need to develop a language between the human and the robot, and also between the robot and the human, so that the information flows in both directions", describes Nathanaël Jarrassé, team member and CNRS researcher. This language is still quite basic at present, but the scientists are working on improving it.
A plunge into this laboratory where infrared sensors rub shoulders with prostheses, exoskeletons and other motorized assistance devices!