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Applied Bionics and Biomechanics
Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 127-147

“I Want That”: Human-in-the-Loop Control of a Wheelchair-Mounted Robotic Arm

Katherine M. Tsui,1 Dae-Jin Kim,2,3 Aman Behal,3 David Kontak,4 and Holly A. Yanco1

1University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA, USA
2Universal Robotics, Inc., Noshville, TN, USA
3University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA
4Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center, Greenfield, NH, USA

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Wheelchair-mounted robotic arms have been commercially available for a decade. In order to operate these robotic arms, a user must have a high level of cognitive function. Our research focuses on replacing a manufacturer-provided, menu-based interface with a vision-based system while adding autonomy to reduce the cognitive load. Instead of manual task decomposition and execution, the user explicitly designates the end goal, and the system autonomously retrieves the object. In this paper, we present the complete system which can autonomously retrieve a desired object from a shelf. We also present the results of a 15-week study in which 12 participants from our target population used our system, totaling 198 trials.