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Shared control study

Postby Irving » 25 Feb 2021, 14:51

One of my research colleagues is currently engaged on a project looking at shared control of wheelchairs. Basically this involves some computer control, with or without machine learning, to provide a degree of assistance in direction control, obstacle avoidance,etc. Think of it, very crudely, like a horse and rider. The rider provides high-level control and direction but the horse manages the terrain, obstacle avoidance and localised direction control.

Now, I know there are those who will be vehemently against such ideas - you who have good hand function and hand-eye coordination - but this is not aimed at you. I'd like to hear from those of you that use, for example, head switches for wheelchair control or have a high degree of hand/arm spasticity requiring larger dead-bands or other adjustments to allow a degree of accuracy, where shared control might be of benefit.

At this stage I'm looking for reasoned views about the validity of such systems, the degree of control, potential benefits, downsides and major concerns, etc., to flesh out the scope of such a study and the remit of user input into the study.

Discuss here, or PM me if more comfortable.
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Re: Shared control study

Postby LROBBINS » 25 Feb 2021, 15:39

Hi Irving, long time no see, so welcome back.

At this point Rachi's cervical dystonia has become so severe that she no longer drives her chair and we are reduced to using the attendant joystick 100% of the time. She had been driving at least a bit with 3 head switches. However, should we ever get the dystonia under some control, I think that some computer assistance would be helpful - at least to avoid hitting a wall straight ahead, or, perhaps, avoiding major obstacles IF, AND ONLY IF, THERE'S NO PC INVOLVED and if it's designed to be fail safe/safe fail. (I guess that I'd even tolerate involvement of a PC if the system is demonstrably fail safe/safe fail.)

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Re: Shared control study

Postby Burgerman » 25 Feb 2021, 17:06

For my own use the whole idea of it horifies me. I want as little computer involved and as much real time control as a car. But its not aimed towards people like me I would hope.
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Re: Shared control study

Postby sacharlie » 26 Feb 2021, 04:57

Autos are moving toward automated control in many functions such as parallel parking and collision avoidance. Why not cruise control for a wheelchair?
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Re: Shared control study

Postby Burgerman » 26 Feb 2021, 12:14

Cruise control is a thing that keeps speed constant when the load such as a hill changes it. So you set speed and the throttle gets regulated to maintain that. Doesent really apply to joysticks. And we already have load compensation built in 24/7. To maintain speed.

As for parallel parking or collision avoidance no thanks! I drive my chair. I dont want it doing anything I dont tell it. For e.g I run into stuff on purpose to move it, to hold it still while I work on it, to open my swing doors, for example on purpose may times an hour. I drive off curbs on purpose all the time. I push through a crowded pub full of sleeping idiots gently nudging them as I go. I choose what terrain, ramp, curb, obstacle is a "collision" or stop situation, I decide if aproach terrain angles or curb height/angles are safe, I decide if a doorway if "just" wide enough with someone stood blocking part of it. I dont want any control system doing "anything" I didnt directly tell it.

For e.g. in this vid my dog sticks his head across the doorway. He wont walk out further as he has seen all this before. Daily for his 12 years. I just lowered my hand to push his head out of the way in case. But has he already ducked back out of the way. I thought he was outside. The stupid safety nazid control system would have decided that the narrow doorway was a hazard already and tried to take over long before the dog even appeared... And if it would have attempted to stop the chair while wheelieing through a narrow doorway so it would have removed the fine steer control I needed and caused me to crash. So no. I want full control thank you very much. Dont want anything interfering. I do this every day. All the time. I dont know how to drive "slow" as such because I never have. I always drive it like I stole it. And am 100% relaxed and in accurate control. Your mileage may vary. But this is my view.

http://www.wheelchairdriver.com/gopro/control.mp4
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Re: Shared control study

Postby foghornleghorn » 26 Feb 2021, 13:54

sacharlie wrote:Why not cruise control for a wheelchair?

Already exists in a lot of joysticks. Look up Latched Driving mode.
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Re: Shared control study

Postby Irving » 26 Feb 2021, 15:27

As I said, this is NOT for those that have 100% or close control. And I'd rather populate this thread with discussion with those that might find shared control assistive, rather than naysayers its not aimed at :D

Thanks Lenny, your points, as always, well made and most already under consideration. The current test platform is networked Raspberry Pi 3s running hardened real-time Linux with LIDAR and ultrasonic sensors, 3D video, IMU for acceleration/yaw measurement, wheel encoders for dead-reckoning positioning, GPS,and a few other bells and whistles (not everything would be in a final package). Windows isn't used for active control,just as top-level supervisor and data visualisation.

We're not looking at 'comfort functions' like cruise control, except as part of a broader assistive package. Lenny's daughter Rachi is a good example of the sort of user we are aiming at.... they have the cognitive abilities to operate the chair, but lack the physical ability to do so safely - can we provide assistance to give them back some of that freedom?
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Re: Shared control study

Postby Mr.Math » 28 Feb 2021, 20:43

Irving,

My wife, a stroke survivor, is wheelchair bound for mobility and would likely benefit from such a system. We have a Permobil C500 that I drive from an attendant joystick in the back because she lacks the fine motor control in her non-paretic arm to safely drive on her own. Due to a combination of right side paresis and motor apraxia affecting her non paretic left side, some type of collision avoidance/shared control would likely help her to be able to drive on her own.

Interesting idea and certainly would have a place in the mobility world. Are you designing a system to be an add-on to a stock chair or a whole integrated chair system out of the box? Given the costs of all things mobility and medical/disability, I can only cringe at what such a thing would cost on the market, however.
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Re: Shared control study

Postby expresso » 01 Mar 2021, 01:55

is this anything like what they have on the market now thats called - LUCI ? you add to your existing chair and it helps you avoid a crash or something like that - google it -
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Re: Shared control study

Postby Irving » 02 Mar 2021, 12:23

Mr.Math wrote:Irving,

My wife, a stroke survivor, is wheelchair bound for mobility and would likely benefit from such a system. We have a Permobil C500 that I drive from an attendant joystick in the back because she lacks the fine motor control in her non-paretic arm to safely drive on her own. Due to a combination of right side paresis and motor apraxia affecting her non paretic left side, some type of collision avoidance/shared control would likely help her to be able to drive on her own.

Interesting idea and certainly would have a place in the mobility world. Are you designing a system to be an add-on to a stock chair or a whole integrated chair system out of the box? Given the costs of all things mobility and medical/disability, I can only cringe at what such a thing would cost on the market, however.


At this stage it is a research project, but I would envisage it as primarily an add-on to an existing wheelchair control system. While I can't say how it would be developed commercially at the stage, I do share your concerns about the arguably unjustified market pricing of disability products and would hope to avoid that.
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Re: Shared control study

Postby Irving » 02 Mar 2021, 12:31

expresso wrote:is this anything like what they have on the market now thats called - LUCI ? you add to your existing chair and it helps you avoid a crash or something like that - google it -


Interesting, though that is less about true shared-control and more about collision prevention. Its one thing to stop the chair from running over a curb or someone's foot in a nice clean situation as demonstrated there, but that would be a nightmare in a crowded shopping street... it would be juddering to a stop every few seconds... what we want to achieve is what BM does every day - eg drive through a doorway at reasonable speed without hitting the frame and without his excellent hand-eye-chair coordination.
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Re: Shared control study

Postby Burgerman » 02 Mar 2021, 13:41

what we want to achieve is what BM does every day - eg drive through a doorway at reasonable speed without hitting the frame and without his excellent hand-eye-chair coordination.


Thats not skill. Thats the result of a normal hand and average brain. But with CORRECT HAND/JOYSTICK POSITIONING and PROPER PROGRAMMING. Which just makes it simple and the chair goes exactly where its told. You literally forget about control. And just go wharever you think you should. When you are able bodied and running, you know exactly where you will fit, and sail through any gaps. You know how fast you can stop. You know exactly where you will place your feet. Theres no prediction, or hoping... You just do it naturally. Once you have the correct technique, and programming. Then this is exactly the same.

I am a fat 60 year old. If I can do that accurately and confidently anyone with normal hand function can.
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Re: Shared control study

Postby expresso » 02 Mar 2021, 17:22

i see - sounds good then - if it can help alot of users - :thumbup:
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Re: Shared control study

Postby Irving » 03 Mar 2021, 13:59

Burgerman wrote:
what we want to achieve is what BM does every day - eg drive through a doorway at reasonable speed without hitting the frame and without his excellent hand-eye-chair coordination.


Thats not skill. Thats the result of a normal hand and average brain. But with CORRECT HAND/JOYSTICK POSITIONING and PROPER PROGRAMMING. Which just makes it simple and the chair goes exactly where its told. You literally forget about control. And just go wharever you think you should. When you are able bodied and running, you know exactly where you will fit, and sail through any gaps. You know how fast you can stop. You know exactly where you will place your feet. Theres no prediction, or hoping... You just do it naturally. Once you have the correct technique, and programming. Then this is exactly the same.

I am a fat 60 year old. If I can do that accurately and confidently anyone with normal hand function can.


The point being, BM, is to assist those without normal hand function to achieve a similar goal as far as practicable.

One stumbling block with LUCI is - given its limited functionality (basically avoiding curbs and feet), and limited availability (a few top-end Permobil and Quantum chairs) - the price. $8000+ seems excessive to me...
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Re: Shared control study

Postby Burgerman » 03 Mar 2021, 14:07

I get that. But even elons 200 billions means teslas STILL have no auto driving. And require humans to oversee and take over monitoring to save you from detruction regardless in the best beta testing to date. You might make it work ish, in a controlled enviroment. But not out in the real world with its infinite scenarios and variables with unforseen results that nobody thought of yet... So I think its not a safe reachable goal.

Its a bit like predicting he weather. They have super computers, and thousands of inputs of various types. But they dont work. Why? Because while the world IS fully causal, we have the butterfly effect. Chaos. To ACCURATELY predict the weather and do away with the butterfly thing, you would need to know the velocity of every particle in the universe. As the starting point. Then the weather models would be correct.

The human brain can naturally forsee the results of an action or movement in an analog kind of way. If I throw you a ball, you will catch it. Same as any dog can. It doesent need to try to work its arc out with massively complex maths.
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Re: Shared control study

Postby expresso » 03 Mar 2021, 17:11

i wonder which insurance will pay for LUCI - at that cost - when inventions are made for the better good for us - and then are charged so much is an insult - no one can afford anything and insurance always denies - the end result is always the user dosnt get things they really need

like seat lifts - standers etc, - those are needed and perform a vital function - yet we still have to fight for them and many still dont get them covered in the end.
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Re: Shared control study

Postby Burgerman » 03 Mar 2021, 23:03

Because... Cost is related to low numbers, much work, much design and testing and few sales.
Because... in the UK its paid for by the NHS which means the taxpayer. So you only get what your cliical requirements dictate. A lift so you can wash your van isnt a clinical requirement and so the taxpayer shouldnt have to pay for it.
Because in the USA much the same applies. Because otherwise your insurance would cost twice as much...

So as an individual, you can argue you need a set lift for e.g so you can transfer to surfaces, beds, dressing bench, sofas, or to empty a leg bag into a toilet then you may well be aproved. If you dont argue, you will not get... Same with tilt, recline for reasons of pressure sores. History of these issues will definitely help your argument. Powered legs? I get swollen lower legs as blood pools. And again it helps to empty legbag over loo. So they agreed these. The lift was also helped by explaiing I live alone. Nobody here to reach stuff. Those are CLINICAL needs rather than just wanted for sunbathing with a pina-colada.

Same as applies to speciality controls, standing chairs, fancy cushions, and backs. Etc. I think in both countries if its a clinical requirement and at least in te UK a joined up hollistic need, it will be allowed. Regardless of over inflated US prices.
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Re: Shared control study

Postby expresso » 03 Mar 2021, 23:21

you may use a lift to wash your van - but many dont - we use it for what its purpose was made to do - assist in transfers - in and out of chair - etc, - or reach up higher in your apt. home to get something out of the freezer or cabinets etc, - those are very useful and much needed

i am sure there are many uses for a lift other than transferring like washing your van also - or when outside in Rest. to eat or what ever the Bar - your limited it without one -

i need one for transferring - easier and safer - and what ever else i can use it for is a plus -
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Re: Shared control study

Postby Burgerman » 03 Mar 2021, 23:38

you may use a lift to wash your van - but many dont - we use it for what its purpose was made to do - assist in transfers - in and out of chair - etc, - or reach up higher in your apt. home to get something out of the freezer or cabinets etc, - those are very useful and much needed

i am sure there are many uses for a lift other than transferring like washing your van also - or when outside in Rest. to eat or what ever the Bar - your limited it without one -

i need one for transferring - easier and safer - and what ever else i can use it for is a plus -



You didnt read what I put.
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Re: Shared control study

Postby expresso » 03 Mar 2021, 23:40

you put that extra after i posted already

you would still have a problem getting some items even if there is a Medical need for them - like a stander - i never seen anyone who got one of those ever approved by insurance - need or not need -
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Re: Shared control study

Postby Burgerman » 04 Mar 2021, 02:57

Really?
They are approved here IF there is a clinical need. Now thats not common. But it happens. You just need a therapist or doctor to say so.

So why pay medical insurance that doesent cover clinical need? Thats what its for surely? (Dont call me shirly).
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Re: Shared control study

Postby expresso » 04 Mar 2021, 03:17

:lol:


its coming on board slowly as more of them are getting approved but most likely have to fight to get it - like what i did - courts - fair hearing

the courts would most likely approve it - but from the start - insurance have there own reasoning which makes no sense - the wording has not been updated since who knows when - either way - its not really covered - and if the Medicare - what we normally have - dosnt cover

normally it goes to the 2nd insurance - most cases Medicaid - they follow the first insurance - can deny it also - now in rare cases - the 2nd insurance may cover what the 1st didnt or dosnt - thats very rare they do -

like in my case - Medicare denied some things - then sent to 2nd insurance to cover - they denied - so off to court we go - i got all my items approved after the hearing - only one didnt - motors -
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Re: Shared control study

Postby ex-Gooserider » 09 Mar 2021, 02:39

Trying to drag this back to the original topic, I agree with BM about feeling total horror about the idea of shared control on MY personal chair... However I can absolutely see a use case for those who don't have good hand / arm function that allows reasonable direct control w/o assistance, or have other limitations that make unassisted operation unsafe...

The LUCI system from what I have seen described is limited, but a start in the right direction, and it's collision avoidance functions probably would need to be a mandatory minimum baseline for any sort of assistive system - you don't want a system that assists users in running into things!

I see two or three modes of operation that might be useful...

In a known environment, like a persons home, and if the chair can determine it's current location, and have a stored map of the area, it would seem like having a list of 'destinations' that the user could pick from, like kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc. and have the chair drive itself to the chosen destination...

In an unknown (no map) environment, the chair might have some sort of display of the features it "sees" like doorways or other objects and the user would be able to pick a feature and have the chair move towards it.

As a slightly enhanced version of latched switching mode - tell the chair to go in X direction until either told to stop or the collision detector triggers... (among other things this would entail compensating for slopes and such that might deflect the chair off course)

I wouldn't expect ANY of these assists to let the user "drive" as well as someone w/ good control skills, but like the dancing bear, it isn't a question of how well it dances, but whether it dances at all - poor / slow control is better than NO control....

Of course this all somewhat ignores the other question that occurs to me, namely what significant benefit the ability to move around w/o a human assistant offers to a person w/ functional limitations such that they can't operate a chair unassisted....

Not picking on Rachi, but giving her as a familiar "use case" - if she can drive to a door, then what? can she open it? If she drives to the bedroom, can she go to bed w/o help? If she drives to the kitchen, can she get herself some food?

It seems like the driving around part is in some ways the least of the issues, if when the user gets to the destination (or points along the way) they still need assistance to do whatever it is they went there for....

I may well be missing something here....

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Re: Shared control study

Postby Burgerman » 09 Mar 2021, 09:42

You did. Wheelchair racing!

Much like the tesla with its extremely complex self driving sensors/software that has to be controlled. Will it spot the difference between the edge of say a carpet or the dogs paw? Will it see that someones spilled liquid like cooking oil or even water on that tiled floor? I suspect that just like tesla it would need monitoring even inside a known enviroment. If the user can do that they can likely drive it better themselves? So not sure I would trust any fully autominous system with a 190kg of chair plus occupant alone. As a slow moving bot without a human, yes. In a safe (dog free?) controlled non changing enviroment.

Its like the computers (3 of them) making the ibot stand and balance. Supposedly safe. I got it to fall forwards in around 4 mins. Had to be grabbed by the rep! All I did was drive slowly across the road and up my neibours driveway ranp. It had a badly placed cracked slab that moved as I tried to climb it. I knew this and predicted that it would fall over. The rep said it wouldnt. He was ready to catch it. And it failed. Its "brain" didnt know enough.
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Re: Shared control study

Postby Williamclark77 » 11 Mar 2021, 15:24

Personally, I would be less concerned about running into things and more concerned about running OFF of things. It would suck to drive off of a porch!

I built my old boss a remote control and gps controlled mower. This was not a toy. I built it from a diesel powered Kubota commercial zero turn mower with a 96" cut width. I used Ardurover as a basic controller.

Anyway, I tried adding a myriad of safety features because this tank would easily run over a person. I tried many sonar/ultrasonic sensors. I couldn't ever get the thing to not be so sensitive that the grass it cut kept tripping the sensors and stopping it. Well, I could, but then it wouldn't "see" stuff that should stop it. I didn't have time to dedicate to it and removed all of the obstacle avoidance stuff.

The hardware to do it is available. I just think the programming would have to be some sort of AI. I don't think any if/then type programming would ever be usable in the real world.

Neat project. One I want absolutely nothing to do with!
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Re: Shared control study

Postby expresso » 11 Mar 2021, 17:13

i have to say it can be useful to some for sure - for instance i find lately i recall riding where they replaced the sidewalks - at the seaport and the curbs are a dark grey concrete which blends in so well - that i almost went off the curb when i first visited after they did all the work
it was new and they changed things made it look nice etc, but they also blended it in so well that it was hard to notice -

its a high curb also - if someone rides off that curb - chair will flip either forward or sideways for sure - its too high to save yourself

i have to remember this when i ride there now - you add the speed along with it and if you dont pay extra attention - it will happen to someone if it didnt already -
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Re: Shared control study

Postby ex-Gooserider » 16 Mar 2021, 03:43

Burgerman wrote:You did. Wheelchair racing!

Much like the tesla with its extremely complex self driving sensors/software that has to be controlled. Will it spot the difference between the edge of say a carpet or the dogs paw? Will it see that someones spilled liquid like cooking oil or even water on that tiled floor? I suspect that just like tesla it would need monitoring even inside a known enviroment. If the user can do that they can likely drive it better themselves? So not sure I would trust any fully autominous system with a 190kg of chair plus occupant alone. As a slow moving bot without a human, yes. In a safe (dog free?) controlled non changing enviroment.

Its like the computers (3 of them) making the ibot stand and balance. Supposedly safe. I got it to fall forwards in around 4 mins. Had to be grabbed by the rep! All I did was drive slowly across the road and up my neibours driveway ranp. It had a badly placed cracked slab that moved as I tried to climb it. I knew this and predicted that it would fall over. The rep said it wouldnt. He was ready to catch it. And it failed. Its "brain" didnt know enough.


Given that they are now starting to push the new improved Ibot, it would be interesting to repeat that test with a new one... I had a chance to try one for a few minutes at the Adaptive Defensive Shooting Summit a few months back, and it was fun, but I'm not sure I'd want it as a 'daily driver' - OTOH the guy running the event was buzzing all over the place, mostly in 2WD "standing" mode (which is what the rep said they recommend as the mode to use most of the time, supposedly takes less power than the other modes) I'd love to know if Trevor shoots in standing mode and how the chair handles the recoil if he does (BTW he is a Pro-team shooter for Ruger)

Getting back to the shared control system, it is a good question about whether they can make a good enough sensor system to deal with the situations you mention (at least some might need a system that detects and stops if the chair response doesn't match what the sensors expect to see it doing - i.e. a skid)... But getting back to my earlier question about how useful it is - Assume it's Stephen Hawking w/ an e-stop, and the system works as intended.. Sure he can go from point A to point B (in a brief moment of time....) but what would he be able to do when he got there? Other than possibly environmental control type things like going to the living room and turning on the TV, it seems of limited use... I.e go to the bathroom fine, but what does he do without assistance when he gets there?

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