Interactive training and assistance systems for fall prevention and training of motor and cognitive performance of persons with cognitive/physical impairments

Supervisors: Björn Hein (HKA), Alexander Woll (KIT), Janina Krell-Rösch (KIT), Christian Wurll (HKA)

Research Entity: Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group (iRAS) at the Institute of Applied Research and <KIT>

One form of robotic assistance systems are actively driven smart walkers. They go beyond purely physical support of walking aids and enable, for example, monitoring and improvement of gait or support for collision avoidance and navigation. Furthermore, studies suggest that novel smart rollators can be used specifically for physical and cognitive activation. This opens up new scientific questions in the field of intuitive interaction, the diagnosis of sensor data, for example with the help of machine learning methods, and the realization of suitable technical functions that enable targeted support or coordinated training.

Accordingly, the goal is to co-design a smart walker with robot-assisted training programs that address aspects of training motor skill strength, specific balance skills, cognitive (especially executive functions, memory) performance, as well as providing goal-directed support to the user.

The PhD project will be based on an existing smart walker called RoboTrainer. It was developed in a previous project. The project will include the further technical advancement of the system focusing on new control strategies in combination with setting ab novel training concepts using RoboTrainer.

In this PhD project, the research fields include:

  • to explore the possibilities of using RoboTrainer’s sensors to diagnose fitness, gait balance and cognitive performance of a human.

  • to investigate new control strategies using RoboTrainer to activate and train humans by nuanced force-based stimulation

  • to explore the possibility of implementing new flexible and individually adaptable training scenario.

Desired qualifications of the PhD student:

  • University degree (M.Sc.) with excellent grades in Computer Science, Control, or related fields

  • Strong programming skills in at least one programming language (preferably C++ and Python)

  • Knowledge in design and programming of robotics with experience in ROS2

  • Good English language skills (your responsibilities include writing publications and giving international presentations)

  • Interest in working with people with impairment