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News

Research teams from Ulster and India combine to develop robotic solutions for the disabled

Intelligent Systems Research Centre : 26 November, 2007  (New Product)
Scientists from the University of Ulster and the Indian Institute of
Technology in Kanpur are teaming up to investigate how to develop
intelligent robotic devices to help people with severe disabilities achieve
greater independence.
The project involves researchers from Ulster's Intelligent Systems Research
Centre on its Magee campus in Londonderry, and scientists at the Indian
Institute of Technology.

Dr Girijesh Prasad, a senior lecturer in the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, who leads the project team, said: 'Thousands of people suffering from neuro-muscular disabilities such as motor neurone disease (MND) and spinal cord injury (SCI), may be completely paralysed.”

'While these people have all their senses intact to see, feel and dream, they may have no means of communicating with the external world at all. In order to provide greater independence to such people, the project aims to investigate intelligent systems that facilitate development of a low-cost
assistive robotic device.'

The main project objectives are to investigate:

- a brain-computer interface (BCI) that allows a disabled person to control
a smart wheelchair and robotic manipulator combination by thinking;
- a visual tracking system for operating the wheelchair as an automated
guided vehicle (AGV) to provide mobility;
- the development of a robotic arm for the natural execution of actions
desired by the disabled user.

The project involves the recruitment of three new postgraduate research
students to assist in the joint programme of research. It also includes
intensive research exchanges between the two institutions by Ulster and IIT
Kanpur researchers, and senior research students. The innovative project is
expected to assist improvements in the lives of persons with movement
disability due to old age, disease or injury.

Professor Martin McGinnity, director of the Intelligent Systems Research
Centre, said: 'We are delighted to have been successful in gaining this
award. There is intense competition for UKIERI research funds and our
success is thus all the more pleasing. The project itself addresses
important technical and medical issues and we are looking forward to a
fruitful collaboration with one of the most prestigious research
institutions in India.'

The three-year 145,000 project is jointly funded by the Indian and UK
Governments under the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI).

UKIERI grant-aids collaborative projects between higher educational
institutions in the UK and India.
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