IIT Projects Search


HE ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2022-2023

Wearable Integrated Soft Haptic Display for Prosthetics

Abstract: The Project aims to develop a wearable fluidic force feedback device for upper and lower limb prostheses, composed by soft silicone chambers along with their actuation and control units, to exert pressures in multiple specific stump sites. This solution, named Wearable Integrated Soft Haptic device (WISH), strives to achieve both good modality matching (MM) and somatotopic matching (SM), while keeping non-invasive and practicable. The principle, preliminarily demonstrated on a single subject and one prosthesis type to display one type of force/tactile information, has the potential to generalize in several directions. Our goal is to transform WISH into a technology platform supporting different devices for different types of prosthesis available in the market, for both upper and lower limbs. We will depend on user involvement, team with hospitals and rehabilitation units, and work with companies producing prostheses (see endorsement letters) to acquire domain specific knowledge and to test our devices in real use cases. Through this project, our Technology Readiness Level will increase from 3 to 4/5 and enable us to apply for an EIC Transition for subsequent development and validation in a larger cohort. To the best of our knowledge, no other haptic display technology for prosthesis users has ever reached such maturity and readiness level, which makes this opportunity unique.

Total budget: 150000.0€

Total contribution: 150000.0€


H2020 ERC - Proof of Concept Grant 2019-2020

An Integrated Soft Robotic System for Industrial Handling

Abstract: "Picking and placing objects that are orderly presented to a robot is a task that can be easily performed by current robots. However, grasping and manipulating objects randomly placed in an unstructured environment remains one of the hardest challenges for robots. Examples of complex picking industrial applications include (i) bin picking for part feeding, (ii) raw food handling and (iii) waste sorting for recycling. Within the ""SoftHandler"" ERC Proof of Concept project, we propose to develop new industrial-grade systems, comprised of end-effectors based on the ""SoftHands"" technology, integrated with a novel manipulator, for automated picking and placing of objects of heterogeneous dimension, shape, weight, position and strength. The Proof of Concept project will be focused on building a commercially viable prototype, and demonstrating it in real-world scenarios.

Total budget: 57381.71€

Total contribution: 57381.71€


H2020 ERC - Synergy Grant 2019-2025

Natural Integration of Bionic Limbs via Spinal Interfacing

Abstract: Missing a limb leads to dramatic impairments in the capacity to move and interact with the environment and to a substantial worsening in quality of life. This deficiency is also associated with a large portion of the sensory-motor cortex facing neural deafness. Missing or damaged limbs can in principle be substituted by robotic limbs, connected to humans with neural interfacing. Despite massive research efforts, however, the bionic reconstruction of limbs currently faces important translational challenges. We aim at filling this gap between academic research and clinical impact with a patient-centric approach that synergistically combines breakthroughs in surgery (Aszmann), neural interfacing (Farina), and robotics (Bicchi). We propose to surgically create bio-connectors (compacted in a bio-hub) to access the spinal cord circuitries by using biological pathways of encoding and decoding neural information. Neural interfacing with the bio-hub will determine an input/output information flow with the spinal cord by decoding the activity of spinal neural cells (output) and stimulating transplanted biological afferent organs (input). The sensorymotor image of the missing limb emerging from this interfacing will be projected in soft robotic arms/legs that will embed kinematic synergies and tactile-proprioceptive functions, intimately matched with the neural sensory-motor synergies extracted from the bio-hub. In this way, Natural BionicS aims at creating a fully integrated, symbiotic replacement of human limbs with robotic parts that the user will feel and command as part of the body. This aim will be achieved with clinical translation aided by the establishment of a Bionic Clinical Board of the three PIs. Here the options of bionic reconstruction will be explored for each patient on a bi-monthly basis, the engineering solutions will be adapted to the clinical challenges, and patients will be identified who best profit from the radical new developments of Natural BionicS

Total budget: 3281875.0€

Total contribution: 3281875.0€

SoftHand Pro-H

H2020 ERC - Proof of Concept Grant 2017-2018

A Soft Synergy-based Hand Prosthesis with Hybrid Control

Abstract: In the project “SoftHands” we have achieved not only a more thorough understanding of the organization and control of hands, but also a principled approach to taming the complexity of hand design. The original concept of “soft synergies” has underpinned the realization of radically new artificial hands: “SoftHands” have been demonstrated to be more adaptive and capable than most artificial hands, yet are simpler to control and more robust. One application of these ideas and technologies which stands out for potential impact and social relevance, although not originally foreseen in the ERC AG plan, is the realization of upper limb pros-theses. The objective to realize a prosthetic hand that is anthropomorphic, aesthetically pleasing, and enables an amputee to perform most activities of daily living as well as advanced prostheses, while being robust, intuitive, and economic as basic body-powered split-hook prostheses requires a much longer and larger re-search and development effort than an ERC POC can support. In this proposal we study the feasibility of applying the SoftHand technology to address one particular, but very important, objective, i.e. work-oriented prostheses. The specific requirements of these applications are high grip power, grasp versatility, resilience, resistance to water, dust, and temperature, durability, power autonomy and low cost – while factors such as aesthetics or silent operation are less dominant. Of particular relevance is the control interface with the patient. Virtually all work-oriented prostheses are operated via a body-powered cable, which is very intuitive to use and does not need batteries, motors, and sensors. On the other hand, advanced multi-fingered prostheses have sophisticated myoelectric control affording versatility and dexterity. In this project, we will engineer and experiment a novel hybrid control for a SoftHand prosthe-sis, whereby a traditional cable harness commands the advanced mechatronic system of the SoftHand.

Total budget: 75053.53€

Total contribution: 75053.53€

Soft Hands

FP7 ERC - Advanced Grant 2012-2017

A theory of SOFT synergies for a new generation of artificial HANDS

Abstract: "Although many advances have been made in the mechatronics and computational hardware of artificial hands, the state of the art appears to be only marginally closer to a satisfactory functional approximation of the human hand than it was twenty years ago. In my analysis, the main reasons for this are not merely techni-cal, but invest some fundamental issues in the understanding of the organization and control of hands, and ultimately the lack of a theory to guide us in the search for a principled approach to taming the complexity of hands. In this project, I propose to contribute to the development of the fundamental elements of such a theory, and bring them to fruition in functional engineered devices. I expect to be able to break through the rather slowly moving front of the state of the art because of the combination of two crucial, recent innovations. The first pillar, and the prime theoretical enabler for this program, is an approach to the description of the organi-zation of the hand sensorimotor system in terms of geometric constraints, or synergies: correlations in redun-dant hand mobility (motor synergies), correlations in redundant cutaneous and kinaesthetic receptor readings (multi-cue integration), and overall sensorimotor control synergies. Elements of such theories have emerged recently in neurosciences, but their exploitation in the sciences of the artificial is an enormous potential barely touched upon till now. The second pillar, providing the new technology needed to build simpler and more effective artificial hands, is the understanding of the role of variable impedance actuation in embodying intelligent grasping and manipulation behaviours in humans, and the availability of a new generation of “robot muscles”, i.e. actuators capable of tuning their impedance to adapt to the environment and the task. These ideas will be pursued in close collaboration with specialists in related domains of neuroscience and robotics."

Total budget: 2258819.91€

Total contribution: 2258819.91€

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