European Partnering Award: Tactile control of posture for human-human and human-machine interaction

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation Science


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Description In collaboration with Lorenz Asslander in Germany, we have completed an experiment to examine the role of tactile information in postural control. We examined the way in which the brain interprets touch information by asking people to grasp a robotic manipulandum which moves in an imperceptible way. This evoked a postural response. We have modelled the relationship between the tactile input and the postural response. The data has been submitted for publication to PLOS One, with a very favorable first round of reviews. We are awaiting the response to our corrections. Firstly, this work will help us to better understand human control of posture. Secondly, it will allow us to implement human control principles into the robotic manipulandum. This will allow us to design human-like robots who move in a realistic fashion.
Exploitation Route Our findings will be used to implement human control principles into a robot. This will allow robots to behave more like humans, in terms of postural control. To this end I am currently preparing an EPSRC application on the topic of tactile control of posture during human-robot interaction.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare

Description Programme Appel à projets générique 2016: AAP Interactions, Robotique, Contenus / Automatique, signal
Amount € 244,400 (EUR)
Organisation National Agency for Research 
Sector Public
Country France
Start 10/2016 
End 10/2019
Description Freiburg/Konstanz collaboration for understanding tactile control of posture 
Organisation Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg
Country Germany 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution As part of the BBSRC EPA award, I visited Prof Thomas Mergner and Dr Lorenz Asslander at The University of Freiburg. This meeting was also attended by Leif Johannsen and Wael Bachta, my fellow EPA applicants. We discussed many ideas for possible future H2020 applications. In addition we discussed possible immediate research collaborations. In particular, I discussed the research that I have recently undertaken in tactile control of posture, and how the analytical techniques of Asslander & Mergner may be relevant to this research.
Collaborator Contribution Lorenz Asslander offered to apply some of the analytical techniques to our experimental questions. His expertise lies in the analysis of transfer functions between postural perturbations and responses, in order to understand sensorimotor control of balance. In particular, we agreed that Dr Reynolds would gather some data in Birmingham using tactile perturbations, and send the data to be analysed by Dr Asslander. We have just accomplished this, and the data is currently being analysed. This collaboration is very efficient, in that it takes advantage of equipment only available to Dr Reynold (MOOG haptic interface) combined with expertise available to Dr Asslander (analysis of Pseudo-random ternary sequence perturbations).
Impact This collaboration has consisted of a pilot experiment undertaken at Birmingham, with the resultant data being sent to Dr Asslander in Germany for analysis. This will lead to future publications and further collaboration.
Start Year 2015
Description French collaboration on Enhancing gait using tactile interfaces 
Organisation Pierre and Marie Curie University - Paris 6
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am named as a collaborator on a grant application to the French National Research Agency, by Wael Bachta. I will undertake scientific experiments alongside the applicant
Collaborator Contribution The applicant is providing laboratory facilities and equipment.
Impact A grant application has been submitted to the French National Research Agency, and has passed the first round.
Start Year 2015