A Virtual Element-Based Postural Optimization Method for Improved Ergonomics during Human-Robot Collaboration

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Abstract

Human-robot collaboration is becoming increasingly popular in the manufacturing industry, opening the door to a large range of applications by combining the complementary skills of the human worker and the robot. Collaborative robots are also a solution to decrease the operator workload and indirectly reduce the risk of occupational injuries such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The latter represents one of the major causes of absenteeism at work. Thanks to the development of human tracking devices, it is possible to monitor the operator, analyze the postures, and assess the associated MSD risk. In this paper, we present a novel ergonomics optimization framework that performs postural optimization based on the virtual element method. A feedback interface is developed whereby the user is informed about non-ergonomic postures and an improved body pose is proposed. The workpiece position controller module acts on the cobot end-effector and indirectly on the co-manipulated part in such a way that the operator's posture is improved. The framework was validated by a user study performed on a human-robot collaboration task whereby the subject polishes a part hold by the robot. The conducted study of the user's perception and REBA scores showed promising results.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering
Volume2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2022

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