Biorobotics Laboratory BioRob

Project Database

This page contains the database of possible research projects for master and bachelor students in the Biorobotics Laboratory (BioRob). Visiting students are also welcome to join BioRob, but it should be noted that no funding is offered for those projects. To enroll for a project, please directly contact one of the assistants (directly in his/her office, by phone or by mail). Spontaneous propositions for projects are also welcome, if they are related to the research topics of BioRob, see the BioRob Research pages and the results of previous student projects.

Amphibious robotics
Computational Neuroscience
Dynamical systems
Human-exoskeleton dynamics and control
Humanoid robotics
Miscellaneous
Mobile robotics
Modular robotics
Neuro-muscular modelling
Quadruped robotics


Amphibious robotics

614 – Robot visualization and feedback for out-of-sight operation
Category:semester project
Keywords:3D, C++, Programming, Robotics
Type:30% hardware, 70% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1215, phone: 32602)
Description:We are investigating highly articulated, amphibious robots within the scope of NCCR Robotics towards search and rescue scenarios. As such, they should be able to operate in challenging, outdoor conditions beyond the line of sight of the operator, in particular through confined spaces. To facilitate out-of-sight operation, we seek to develop a visualization of the robot alongside a live feed from the camera. Joint angle, force sensor and IMU readouts are currently being published within a ROS (Robot Operating System) node within the robot architecture with further work needed to display this data in an easily understandable way. This would entail working within rqt and rviz ROS packages, as well as porting the current 3D robot model to Unified Robot Description Format (URDF) compliant with ROS. Our system is currently controlled through a C++ program running on an ODROID XU4. Testing on hardware will be a part of this project. Please contact Matt Estrada with a description of previous projects worked on.

Last edited: 04/12/2019
611 – Traversability pipeline for Krock 2
Category:semester project
Keywords:C++, Linux, Locomotion
Type:20% theory, 80% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1215, phone: 32602)
Description:This project combines the traversability pipeline developed at the Swiss AI Lab IDSIA with amphibious hardware development at BIOROB. Traversability is calculated by generating a dataset through simulation, discerning which patches of 3D height maps the Krock 2 robot should be able to cross. After thoroughly sampling this space on a variety of rough terrains and outputting a binary success or failure, a neural network is trained on the dataset and used to extrapolate whether the robot should be able to cross larger maps. We will investigate several new directions: 1) Incorporating a more sophisticated closed-loop locomotion controller. Currently the simulated gait is open-loop with no feedback from any of the onboard sensors. 2) Feeding an expanded feature set to the neural network, incorporating sensor data rather than a binary success/failure measure 3) Using the output of these traversability maps to guide higher-level navigation of the robot across larger sections of terrain

Last edited: 25/09/2019
609 – Refactoring code base for control of amphibious robots
Category:semester project, internship
Keywords:C++, Computer Science, Control, Electronics, Linux, Programming
Type:10% hardware, 90% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1215, phone: 32602)
Description:The EPFL Biorobotics Lab (BIOROB) operates several robots on a control framework developed over several years. The latest iteration involves an amphibious, sprawling-gait robot intended for locomotion both in water and on land. The aim of this project is to refactor the functioning code base to improve usability and readability. Specifically, we aim to separate the general control framework from specific instance of the running robot and extensively document classes using Doxygen comments. Good knowledge of UNIX-like environments (e.g. Linux) and good C++ skills are a requirement. Previous experience with mechatronics projects and/or robotics is a plus. Applicants able to provide examples of past programming projects are strongly preferred. Code base located at: https://gitlab.com/biorob-krock/Krock2_RobotController

Last edited: 26/08/2019
585 – Closed loop control of a flow tank
Category:semester project
Keywords:C++, Control, Experiments, Feedback, Programming
Type:5% theory, 45% hardware, 50% software
Responsibles: (MED 1 1025, phone: 36630)
(MED 1 1215, phone: 32602)
Description:The biorobotics laboratory is equipped with a flow tank system that allows testing of swimming robots against a constant flow of water. This enables the robots to swim for a longer duration of time as well as study the turbulence caused by the robot. So far the flow tank is controlled in an open-loop configuration, meaning that the speed setpoint for the recirculation thrusters (array of 6x2 thrusters) is set at a fixed reference.
This project aims to develop a closed-loop system that uses the feedback (flow speed at different locations) to provide reference setpoints for the array of recirculation thrusters. The project will focus on using a different configuration of sensor placements and eventually control each thruster separately to achieve a less turbulent water flow.

Last edited: 04/01/2019 (revalidated 28/10/2019)

Human-exoskeleton dynamics and control

602 – Electronics, Human-machine interface for a Hand Exoskeleton
Category:master project (full-time), internship
Keywords:C++, Data Processing, Electronics, Embedded Systems, Mechanical Construction, Radio, Robotics
Type:100% other activities
Responsible: (MED 0 1023, phone: 34183)
Description:

Introduction

Impairments to hand sensorimotor functions are among the most common consequences of traumatic and neurological conditions affecting the central and peripheral nervous systems, such as strokes, spinal cord injuries, and cerebral palsies. Due to the fundamental role that our hands play during everyday living, deficits in arms and hand functioning are heavily disabling conditions that can drastically reduce the personal independence during daily life and the social participation of affected individuals.

At the CNBI and BioRob laboratories at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, we developed a novel hand exoskeleton with the main purpose of assisting independence and promoting intensive use during activities of daily living (ADL). The system was iteratively designed, developed and tested in collaboration with healthcare professionals and users with hand motor disabilities. Experimental results showed that the exoskeleton could help these users regain capabilities useful for independence in daily life that they had lost since their disabling accidents.

Short summary video

Journal paper

Tests with end-users

Images and short description

Project proposal

Within the framework of the hand exoskeleton, we have several opening for semester and master projects:

(i) Electronics

- Microcontroller

- Radio communication

- Design for manufacturing and assembly

- Battery recharge

(ii) Human machine interface

- Electromyographic (EMG) control

- Software interfacing with commercial EMG device

- Development of subject-specific decoders

Contact

If interested, please contact: luca.randazzo@epfl.ch

Last edited: 07/12/2019

615 – Design of a Mechatronics Benchtop to characterize a Hand Exoskeleton
Category:master project (full-time), internship
Keywords:Experiments, Kinematics Model, Mechanical Construction, Motion Capture, Programming, Robotics, Vision
Type:70% hardware, 30% software
Responsible: (MED 0 1023, phone: 34183)
Description:

Introduction

Impairments to hand sensorimotor functions are among the most common consequences of traumatic and neurological conditions affecting the central and peripheral nervous systems, such as strokes, spinal cord injuries, and cerebral palsies. Due to the fundamental role that our hands play during everyday living, deficits in arms and hand functioning are heavily disabling conditions that can drastically reduce the personal independence during daily life and the social participation of affected individuals.

At the CNBI and BioRob laboratories at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, we developed a novel hand exoskeleton with the main purpose of assisting independence and promoting intensive use during activities of daily living (ADL). The system was iteratively designed, developed and tested in collaboration with healthcare professionals and users with hand motor disabilities. Experimental results showed that the exoskeleton could help these users regain capabilities useful for independence in daily life that they had lost since their disabling accidents.

Short summary video

Journal paper

Tests with end-users

Images and short description

M.Sc. Thesis Proposal

The hand exoskeleton is based on artificial tendons that embed two functional stages: (i) bi-directional motion transmission from a remote driving mechanism, and (ii) force exchange with the wearer’s fingers through a wearable exoskeletal layer.

The objective of this Thesis is to develop a mechatronics benchtop that enables to quantitatively measure the performance of different exoskeletal layer designs. Specifically, this work will exploit mechatronics approaches to develop (i) a sensorized, actuated mechanical antropomorphic human hand, (ii) sensorized objects and (iii) measuring equipment, in order to characterize the ranges of motion and forces of the exoskeleton in interactions with objects and its electrical characteristics (e.g. energy consumption and efficiency).

The Thesis will be divided into three main work packages (WP):

(WP1) Familiarization with existing hand exoskeleton hardware and mechatronics testing facilities, and with state-of-the-art literature

(WP2) Conceptualization, design and manufacture of a mechatronics benchtop

(WP3) Quantitative (benchtop), and qualitative testing with users with hand motor disabilities

Design requirements include performance during typical activities of daily living (e.g. autonomous eating with cutlery, grasping and holding a glass full of water, e.g.: fingertip forces ~10 N, ROM at fingers ~[70,100]°), and usability endpoints (easy and quick donning/doffing procedures, prolonged wearing, comfort, reduced bulk and weight).

Expected outcomes include: (i) development of a mechatronics testing benchtop, (ii) quantitative assessing of several exoskeleton's designs performance through solid methodological approach.

The Thesis will be conducted at the EPFL, with access to the following facilities:

-Office location at the BioRobotics laboratory (https://biorob.epfl.ch/)

-Personal access to manufacturing (e.g. Laser cutter; 3-axis CNC machine; ABS, PLA and Flexible FDM 3D printer; Thermoforming machine; Sewing machine; Lathe; SMD soldering equipment), and measuring (e.g. Vicon) tools

-On-demand access to EPFL services for professional manufacturing (https://actu.epfl.ch/news/technicalworkshops-at-epfl-school-of-engineering/)

Contact

If interested, please contact: luca.randazzo@epfl.ch

Last edited: 07/12/2019

613 – Design Improvements of a Hand Exoskeleton
Category:master project (full-time), internship
Keywords:Experiments, Robotics
Type:80% hardware, 20% software
Responsible: (MED 0 1023, phone: 34183)
Description:

Introduction

Impairments to hand sensorimotor functions are among the most common consequences of traumatic and neurological conditions affecting the central and peripheral nervous systems, such as strokes, spinal cord injuries, and cerebral palsies. Due to the fundamental role that our hands play during everyday living, deficits in arms and hand functioning are heavily disabling conditions that can drastically reduce the personal independence during daily life and the social participation of affected individuals.

At the CNBI and BioRob laboratories at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, we developed a novel hand exoskeleton with the main purpose of assisting independence and promoting intensive use during activities of daily living (ADL). The system was iteratively designed, developed and tested in collaboration with healthcare professionals and users with hand motor disabilities. Experimental results showed that the exoskeleton could help these users regain capabilities useful for independence in daily life that they had lost since their disabling accidents.

Short summary video

Journal paper

Tests with end-users

Images and short description

M.Sc. Thesis Proposal

The hand exoskeleton is based on artificial tendons that embed two functional stages: (i) bi-directional motion transmission from a remote driving mechanism, and (ii) force exchange with the wearer’s fingers through a wearable exoskeletal layer.

The objective of this Thesis is to improve the exoskeletal layer stage of the device, enhancing the transmission efficiency of mechanical power to the fingers of the wearer. Specifically, this work will leverage on the knowledge matured within the laboratory, on the existing exoskeleton hardware concept, and will draw inspiration from state-of- the-art soft robotic exoskeletons and grippers in order to explore design of novel exoskeletal fingers through combining (i) mechanically-compliant engineered structures (e.g. kirigami, meta-materials fabrication), and (ii) compliant materials (e.g. fabrics).

The Thesis will be divided into three main work packages (WP):

(WP1) Familiarization with existing hand exoskeleton hardware, and with state-of-the-art literature

(WP2) Conceptualization, design and manufacture of improved exoskeletal layer stages

(WP3) Quantitative and qualitative testing with users with hand motor disabilities

Design requirements include performance during typical activities of daily living (e.g. autonomous eating with cutlery, grasping and holding a glass full of water, e.g.: fingertip forces ~10 N2, ROM at fingers ~[70,100]°3), and usability endpoints4 (easy and quick donning/doffing procedures, prolonged wearing, comfort, reduced bulk and weight).

Expected outcomes include: (i) proposal of novel/improved designs of the exoskeletal layer stage, (ii) quantitative assessing of the design’s performance through solid methodological approach.

The Thesis will be conducted at the EPFL, with access to the following facilities:

-Office location at the BioRobotics laboratory (https://biorob.epfl.ch/)

-Personal access to manufacturing (e.g. Laser cutter; 3-axis CNC machine; ABS, PLA and Flexible FDM 3D printer; Thermoforming machine; Sewing machine; Lathe; SMD soldering equipment), and measuring (e.g. Vicon) tools

-On-demand access to EPFL services for professional manufacturing (https://actu.epfl.ch/news/technicalworkshops-at-epfl-school-of-engineering/)

Contact

If interested, please contact: luca.randazzo@epfl.ch

Last edited: 07/12/2019


Miscellaneous

577 – Novel robotic solutions for space exploration and colonization at JAXA
Category:master project (full-time)
Keyword:Robotics
Type:30% theory, 20% hardware, 50% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1226, phone: 32658)
Description:

Do you want to help unravel the mysteries of space? Do you have a keen interest in robotics and space sciences? Then why not join the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for a master project or a summer internship jointly supervised by the Biorobotics Laboratory? On the Sagamihara campus, right next to Tokyo, the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS/JAXA) is working on innovative robotics projects for future space missions, including extraterrestrial environments colonization. Current projects include novel jumping rovers for lunar pit exploration, swarm of soft robots for Mars missions, modular robotic structures for autonomous outpost creation, reconfigurable satellites,... and so much more! We are offering a very stimulating environment, in which you will be able to work directly with researchers and engineers on concrete problems as well as on theoretical challenges. We are open to suggestions for potential new projects and are eager to explore new paths, so do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your ideas!

In terms of financing, ISAS can unfortunately not fully cover your costs of living (but case by case exception may be possible). We encourage you to check the financing opportunities at EPFL. A small budget will be allocated for the research project itself.

For more information on the various projects conducted at ISAS/JAXA, please have a look at our official website: http://www.isas.jaxa.jp/en/. For specific projects in robotics, you will find more information on the following website (we are currently updating it): http://robotics.isas.jaxa.jp/kubota_lab/en/

Contact at JAXA:

Dr. Stephane Bonardi
Kubota Laboratory, ISAS/JAXA
Email: stephane.bonardi@jaxa.jp



Last edited: 29/08/2019
601 – Multimodal controller design and characterization using somatosensory feedback for salamander locomotion
Category:semester project
Keywords:3D, Bio-inspiration, Control, Feedback, Locomotion, Programming, Simulator, Synchronization
Type:30% theory, 70% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1611, phone: 34793)
Description:A simulation model of the salamander is currently being developed for 3D simulations with the Bullet 3D physics engine. It has been implemented such that it could already simulate basic walking gaits using a network of oscillators based on CPGs. This project will consist in improving the walking gaits in simulation by upgrading the morphology and the oscillator networks. More precisely, the end goal of the project will be to explore how the combination of sensory feedback with CPG networks could improve walking in salamanders.

Last edited: 20/06/2019
578 – Implementation of an optimization framework
Category:master project (full-time)
Keywords:C++, Computer Science, Linux, Programming
Type:100% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1025, phone: 36630)
Description:

The EPFL biorobotics lab (BIOROB) has several servers that are used as computation nodes to run simulations. Currently, we use a custom optimization framework that allows users to easily distribute simulations (mainly running on Webots) on the nodes and to collect the results. The aim of this project is to (a) explore and document how to deploy SLURM (or a similar open-source well-maintained job scheduler) on such a setup, and to (b) implement an extensible optimization framework (in C/C++, with bindings at least for Python) capable of doing what our current setup can do, but on the top of SLURM.

Good knowledge of UNIX-like environments (e.g. Linux) and good C++ skills are a requirement. Previous experience with job schedulers and/or optimization (e.g. particle swarm optimization) is a plus.



Last edited: 14/11/2018 (revalidated 09/08/2019)

Neuro-muscular modelling

612 – Learning to move around combining reflexes and cpgs for a bio-inspired human model.
Category:
Keywords:3D, Balance Control, Bio-inspiration, Biped Locomotion, Learning, Linux, Locomotion, Optimization, Programming, Reflexes
Type:30% theory, 70% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1611, phone: 34793)
Description:Central Pattern Generators (CPGs) offer an interesting solution for the control of locomotion of legged robots, especially bipeds. This concept comes from biology, where CPG neural networks located in the spine of animals are supposed to be responsible for the generation of complex control signals for the coordination of the limbs during periodic movement (e.g. locomotion). These CPGs are activated and modulated by simple control signals coming from higher part of the brain and are tightly coupled to sensory information (force and position sensing). In robotics, CPGs are often modeled as systems of coupled oscillators. The interest of such systems is their intrinsic stability properties that make them suitable for feedback integration (limit cycle behavior), their synchronization properties that allow entrainment between the robot and the controller. They also reduce the dimensionality of the control problem, since only parameters such as frequency, amplitude and coupling between the oscillators have to be chosen to generate high dimensional control policies. In this project we aim at combining CPGs and reflexes to generate stable 3D walking controller in the opensim environment. The context of this project is the "Learn to move around" competition from aicrowd, where the final goal is to be able to control the heading direction of the bipedal model, see here : "http://osim-rl.stanford.edu/".

Last edited: 19/11/2019
610 – Adapt morphology of biomechanical models to specific patients from marker placements
Category:semester project
Keywords:3D, Bio-inspiration, Biped Locomotion, Motion Capture, Muscle modeling, Programming, Simulator
Type:30% theory, 70% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1611, phone: 34793)
Description:The EPFL Biorobotics laboratory is using neuromuscular simulation to better understand the mechanisms behind the neural control of healthy and pathological human locomotion. Cerebral palsy is a diffused neural desease leading to gait deviations and mostly present in very young individuals. This project aims to generate a biomechanical model adapted to the shape of different children to allow more efficient predictive simulations of CP pathological gait. In collaboration with the Kinesiology Lab in Geneva, we have access to many patients recorded from there lab. Most of the patients are children with different age and body shape. The shape of the body will be estimated based on the marker positions recorded and saved in C3D files. Therefore, markers relative to specific anatomical frames will be used as reference for the estimation of length of body segments. Weight of segments will be estimated using existing anthropometric tables. The final outcome of the project is a tool able to take as input the marker positions and automatically return the model scaled according to the morphology of the patient in the OpenSim and Webots format. The work will partially done with open sim scaling tools and webots.

Last edited: 18/09/2019
607 – Sensitivity analysis of muscle reflexes on multiple parameters dimension
Category:semester project
Keywords:Biped Locomotion, Feedback, Programming, Reflexes
Type:30% theory, 70% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1611, phone: 36620)
Description:The EPFL Biorobotics laboratory is using neuromuscular simulation to better understand the mechanisms behind the neural control of human locomotion. These simulations have shown that a simple sensory driven controller is able to replicate healthy gaits stimulating reflexes based on stretch and force receptors and gained by specific constant parameters. Yet, it is still not clear which parameter or combination of parameters influence most the gait patterns. Previously, an OFAT (one factor at time) study was conducted to investigate the influence of single parameters This project aims to perform a sensitivity analysis studying the changing effect of combinations of reflex parameters extracting data from multiple simulations in Webots. The code is implemented in Python. Past experience with Webots is a plus, but not compulsory.

Last edited: 26/08/2019
608 – Matching healthy and pathological gaits with GA algorithm
Category:semester project
Keywords:Biped Locomotion, Computational Neuroscience, Feedback, Optimization, Programming, Reflexes
Type:30% theory, 70% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1611, phone: 36620)
Description:The EPFL Biorobotics laboratory is using neuromuscular simulation to better understand the mechanisms behind the neural control of human locomotion. These simulations have shown that a simple sensory driven controller is able to replicate healthy gaits stimulating reflexes based on stretch and force receptors and gained by specific constant parameters. This project aims to investigate whether our neuromuscular model is able to replicate gaits resulting from pathologies such as stroke, weakness and cerebral palsy matching joint trajectory obtained in simulations and experimental data using Genetic Algorithms. The code is implemented in Python. Past experience with Webots is a plus, but not compulsory.

Last edited: 18/07/2019
606 – Modeling spasticity behavior in human pathological locomotion
Category:semester project
Keywords:Biped Locomotion, Feedback, Programming, Reflexes
Type:30% theory, 70% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1611, phone: 36620)
Description:The EPFL Biorobotics laboratory is using neuromuscular simulation to better understand the mechanisms behind the neural control of healthy and pathological human locomotion. These simulations have shown that a simple sensory driven controller is able to replicate healthy gaits stimulating reflexes based on stretch and force receptors and gained by specific constant parameters. These reflexes are modulated by descending pathways coming from the brain. However, brain and spinal injuries may result in an abnormal modulaton of reflexes leading to spasticity. This project aims to reproduce the spasticity behavior in neuromechanical simulations of pathological human walking. Computational programming skills with Python are required. Previous experience with Webots is a plus, but not compulsory.

Last edited: 18/07/2019

Mobile robotics

595 – Design and implementation of outdoor navigation algorithms
Category:master project (full-time)
Type:30% hardware, 70% software
Responsible: (GARAGE, phone: 078 843 99 35)
Description:Rovéo is an agile rover designed to easily overcome urban obstacles (see www.rovenso.com). The project will focus on designing, implementing and assessing algorithms for outdoor navigation (C++). A strong focus will also be put on the mechatronics aspects of outdoor navigation (choice of sensors and sensor fusion, waterproof protections, adaptation to existing mechanics and electronics). This is a challenging multi-disciplinary project for highly motivated students.

Last edited: 19/03/2019 (revalidated 21/10/2019)

16 projects found.