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

599 – Porting control architecture to ROS
Category:semester project, bachelor semester project, internship
Keywords:C++, Control, Linux, Programming, Robotics
Type:20% hardware, 80% software
Responsibles: (MED 1 1611, phone: 34793)
(MED 1 1611, phone: 34714)
Description:We are investigating highly articulated, amphibious robots within the scope of NCCR Robotics towards search and rescue scenarios. These robots are to be demonstrated cooperating with other legged and aerial platforms within the program. https://nccr-robotics.ch/ Our system is currently controlled through a C++ program running on an Odroid XU4, though most other systems under our NCCR project run within the Robot Operating System (ROS). To facilitate cooperation (e.g. sharing sensor data while mapping environments), we would like to port the control of the robot to this common, "middleware" platform. https://www.ros.org/ The project would consist of the initial setup and test of ROS, further documentation of the current C++ code base, and working up towards the control of a quadrupedal robot, such as k-rock. Ultimately, this would help more easily integrate additional actuation, sensors, and control. https://actu.epfl.ch/news/k-rock-meets-his-cousin/ Student should have experience coding in C++. Please contact Matt Estrada with a description of previous projects worked on.

Last edited: 05/06/2019
598 – Amphibious hardware design
Category:semester project, master project (full-time), internship
Keywords:Bio-inspiration, C++, Control, Electronics, Locomotion, Mechanical Construction, Programming, Robotics
Type:10% theory, 80% hardware, 10% software
Responsibles: (MED 1 1215, phone: 32602)
(MED 1 1611, phone: 34714)
Description:Aquatic, undulatory locomotion is investigated in the lab by highly-articulated, robotic systems that require actuation, electronics, and hence waterproofing, throughout the body of the robot. The ability to rapidly iterate hardware design is hindered by the overhead in designing these water-resilient systems. An alternative approach being used in the lab is to use a dry-suit, creating a layer between the water and electronics inside. However, this suit can hinder mobility of the robot and wear at contact points when traversing the ground. We are working with a dry suit for the K-Rock robot, using a similar skeleton as the one shown below, but a different (i.e. less-bio) suit. Desired refinements include a better process to put on the suit and reinforcing contact points with the ground. https://actu.epfl.ch/news/k-rock-meets-his-cousin/

Last edited: 03/06/2019

Human-exoskeleton dynamics and control

586 – Design improvements, prototyping and testing of a hand exoskeleton
Category:semester project
Keywords:Mechanical Construction, Robotics
Type:90% hardware, 10% software
Responsible: (MED 0 1023, phone: 34183)
Description: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


The aim of this project is to exploit a user-centric design approach, with the goal of enabling comfortable and prolonged use of the system by people with hand motor disabilities. Specifically, objectives will include the mechanical (re-)design, prototyping and testing of different parts of (i) the exoskeletal glove, (ii) the system’s “control” box and (iii) the tendon-based actuation mechanisms.
We’re interested in self-driven candidates, with background and experience in: (i) Mechanical Design (e.g. Solidworks, Inventor), (ii) Strong hands-on prototyping (3D printing, Laser cutting, CNC, ++)
Experience with any of the following is a plus: (i) Worked with soft and wearable systems, fabrics and sewing, (ii) Design for production methods (DFMA), (iii) Mechatronics (e.g. Motor control, Sensors integration, Coding e.g. C++, Python), (iv) Interest in assistive technologies and devices, (v) Passionate about product design

Last edited: 03/03/2019

Miscellaneous

597 – Building a 3D mouse treadmill for locomotion experiments
Category:semester project, master project (full-time)
Keywords:3D, Control, Electronics, Locomotion, Mechanical Construction, Quadruped Locomotion
Type:10% theory, 80% hardware, 10% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1611, phone: 36714)
Description:Mice have been a very crucial species in studying and understanding how mammalian locomotion operates. Current state of the art neuroscience research has provided insights into the neural circuits in the brain and spinal cord that are involved in turning behaviors during locomotion. In order to study the neural circuits while the mice are performing turning behaviors, it is essential that they are placed on a platform that allows them to not only walk in straight paths(like a conventional treadmill) but also allow them to turn while walking in place. At this moment one solution we consider is a large supported ball over/inside which the mouse walk and rotate. To this aim the goal of the project is to first explore the possibilities of a mechanism that can accomodate the above mentioned requirements. Then build a proof of concept system and test it with mice. A long term goal for the project would to integrate a Virtual Reality system with treadmill support. For this project we are looking for a student who has background/experience in building mechanical structures, mechanical design, mechatronic systems and may be some basic electronics.

Last edited: 08/05/2019

Neuro-muscular modelling

587 – Sensitivity analysis on reflex parameters of a bio-inspired locomotion controller and mimetism based optimisation
Category:semester project
Keywords:Bio-inspiration, 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. Yet, it is still not clear which parameter or combination of parameters influence most the gait patterns. This project aims to perform a sensitivity analysis of reflex parameters extracting data from multiple simulations in Webots. The purpose of this study is also to define which set of gains can lead to replication of pathological gaits (e.g. tip toe walking). The code is implemented in MATLAB. Past experience with Webots is a plus, but not compulsory.

Last edited: 12/06/2019
580 – Implementation of polynomial muscle-joint coupling
Category:semester project
Keywords:Architecture, Bio-inspiration, Control, Data Processing, Dynamics Model, Kinematics Model, Locomotion, Muscle modeling, Simulator
Type:30% theory, 70% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1024, phone: 37506)
Description:Muscle-joint coupling is an important aspect of neuro-muscular simulations of hu- mans, as it relates the forces in the muscles to the torques at the joints. But the Geyer method based on Hill muscle model could not be used for 3D modeling. The goal of this project is to use a muscle-joint coupling method which directly re- lates the muscle length and the moment arm through polynomials, using data from OpenSim, to make the model work in "Webots", and compare this to currently existing methods. Finally, we verified that the polynomial method works well in muscles that span mul- tiple degrees of freedom, and make the 2D model using the polynomial method work well in webots.

Last edited: 11/06/2019
594 – Studying the role of different muscle models on the low level control of lower limb
Category:semester project
Keywords:Bio-inspiration, Biped Locomotion, Computational Neuroscience, Dynamics Model, Feedback, Locomotion, Muscle modeling, Programming, Simulator
Type:30% theory, 70% software
Responsibles: (MED 1 1024, phone: 37506)
(MED 1 1611, phone: 34793)
Description:Biological muscles have intrinsic stabilization features. Recent observation suggest that those features are not recapitulated in the most common muscle model used by neuro-muscular modelers, i.e. Hill Muscles. Building on the results of a previous master project, the current project aims at : - implementing a new muscle models incorporating a mechanism of force enhancement during eccentric contraction - testing the effect of this muscle model in the control of joint position on a simplistic one degree of freedom model - implementing the new muscle model in a neuromuscular model of human walking already available in the lab and study the effect of this new muscle model in terms of: - stabilization effect on gait - energy expenditure of the model The project will involve a little litterature review of new finding on muscle structure, programming of the new muscle models on two different models (a simple one segment model and a more complex 6 segment model of human walking).

Last edited: 22/02/2019
588 – Neural control of Tibialis Anterior in human locomotion
Category:semester project
Keywords:Bio-inspiration, Biped Locomotion, Data Processing, Programming
Type:30% theory, 70% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1611, phone: 36620)
Description:Neural control of movement relies on coordinated neural activity of sensory feedback, spinal central pattern generators (CPGs) and descending pathways coming from the brain. However, it is not fully understood yet how the control is shared among these three neural components. It is generally assumed that brain activity is in charge for gait modulation and single muscle stimulation is generated by spinal CPGs and sensory reflexes. Yet, experiments on human subjects with transcranial magnetic stimulation have shown that the tibialis anterior (TA, ankle dorsiflexor) is more affected by brain activity perturbations suggesting that the activation of this muscle relies more on cortical control instead of spinal control. On the other hand, neuromuscular simulations of human walking are able to replicate the activation of TA with a purely reflex-driven controller. This project aims to compare EMG activity in healthy and pathological brain injured patients during walking tasks in order to better understand the control level of muscle activation during locomotion. The EMG signal processing is implemented in MATLAB.

Last edited: 14/01/2019

Mobile robotics

596 – Design of tugging tether for micro air vehicle manipulation
Category:semester project, master project (full-time)
Keywords:Electronics, Mechanical Construction, Motion Capture, Programming
Type:80% hardware, 20% software
Responsible: (MED 1 1611, phone: 34714)
Description:Micro air vehicles (MAVs) equipped with controllable attachment mechanisms have been shown to be maneuverable enough to navigate 3D settings and forceful enough to affect human-scale environments. Force instance, our previous investigation demonstrated two, 100 gram vehicles coordinating to open a door as a proof of concept [1]. The original investigation demonstrated forces up to 40x's the vehicle's weight using high-end hobby servos to generate sufficient forces. However, no mind was paid to the energetic efficiency and speed. A more thorough design of a tugging system would give the opportunity to better match motor capabilities to a chosen gripping mechanism to optimize for speed, incorporate simple sensing, and eventually better enable cooperation in manipulation. This project would define functional requirements and create a prototype for a 1 degree of freedom tugging system to be mounted to an off-the-shelf drone and simple attachment mechanism (e.g. magnets or hook). If time allows, three units will be constructed to demonstrate lifting and orienting an object. This would be a collaboration with Laboratory of Intelligent Systems. Relevant skills: mechanical design, motor analysis, mechatronics, microcontrollers, drones [1] Estrada, M. A., Mintchev, S., Christensen, D. L., Cutkosky, M. R., & Floreano, D. (2018). Forceful manipulation with micro air vehicles. Science Robotics, 3(23), eaau6903. Relevant press: https://actu.epfl.ch/news/small-flying-robots-able-to-pull-objects-up-to-4-2/ https://www.technologyreview.com/the-download/612344/wasp-inspired-robots-can-lift-40-times-their-own-weight-and-work-together-to/

Last edited: 24/05/2019
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

10 projects found.