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Impedance Control of a Small Treadmill with Sonar Sensors for Automatic Speed Adaptation

Jungwon Yoon*, Auralius Manurung, and Gap-Soon Kim
International Journal of Control, Automation, and Systems, vol. 12, no. 6, pp.1323-1335, 2014

Abstract : Automatic speed adaptation in treadmill training plays an important role in gait rehabilitation and virtual reality (VR) environments, where the user can adjust his/her speed for improved motivation and an enhanced sense of reality during walking interactions. To implement automatic speed ad-aptation of a treadmill belt, we have developed a novel impedance control scheme that accommo-dates natural movements without mechanical attachments to the user, and can estimate user-treadmill interactive forces to directly detect user intention, while simultaneously maintaining the user’s position on the treadmill platform. The proposed impedance control is realized via user interaction with a fixed virtual spring–damper component, allowing direct acceleration control of the treadmill belt in proportion to user displacement. The technique was applied to a small commercial treadmill (with a belt length of 1.2 m and a width of 0.5 m), which is easily installed and economical to operate, and is widely used in homes and health centers. Inexpensive sonar sensors with a Kalman filter algorithm were employed to measure user motions. To identify the characteristics of the proposed control scheme, a set of experiments was conducted and preliminary user studies with VR interactions were performed. The results of these experiments indicate that our impedance control scheme can provide a non-intrusive, intuitive method for implementing user-selected speed on a small treadmill. The proposed technique is cost-effective, and could potentially be applied to any type of locomotion interface or gait rehabilitation system, without the use of expensive, sophisticated sensors or special treadmills.

Keyword : Automatic speed adaptation, gait rehabilitation, impedance control, locomotion interface, treadmill.

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