Robotic Prosthesis

February 07, 2017

View the MASS Impact Website here!

We are a group of students and alumni in Engineering and Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology who have come together through working as researchers at the MENRVA Research Group, supervised by associate professor Dr. Carlo Menon. We will be competing at Cybathlon 2016 as team, M.A.S.S. Impact.

On October 8th, 2016, Cybathlon, will be the first international championship for racing pilots with disabilities who are using advanced assistive devices including robotic technologies, in Zurich, Switzerland hosted by ETH Zurich. The main goal of the Cybathlon is to provide a platform for the development of novel assistive technologies that are useful for daily life. The competition has received worldwide media coverage from major news broadcasters such as BBC, CNN, CBC, CTV amongst many others. As of May this year, 49 teams from various academic institutions and research companies have registered representing 17 countries. Our team, M.A.S.S. Impact, is currently the only Canadian team and will be representing the School of Engineering Science and Simon Fraser University.

In the prosthetics industry, there is an 80% rejection rate of robotic upper-extremity prosthesis. The big challenge is that, in order to effectively use the device, the user must overcome a steep learning curve, since conventional control strategies are based on the sequential muscle contractions detected by surface electromyography (sEMG) signals. In addition, the sEMG signal itself is not always reliable since its quality can fluctuate due to skin conditions such as sweating. In order to address these limitations, we have developed an alternate control strategy. We believe our technology will allow a more effortless and dependable control of robotic prostheses and ultimately enhance the quality of life of individuals with upper-extremity amputations.\

Due to the potential of our technology, we have received high interest from prosthetists and other rehabilitation professionals. Barber Prosthetics Clinic has been a key collaborating partner and has facilitated the recruitment process of a trans-radial amputee to be our pilot for the competition as well as lending us their clinical and technical expertise. In addition, leading prosthesis manufacturing company, Steeper Group, has been a great supporter of this initiative, and has donated their most advanced prosthetic hand, Bebionic3, for the next two years.

Our participation at Cybathlon 2016 will benefit Engineering and SFU students by:

  • Giving students a valuable learning experience to implement what they have learned in an academic setting to real-life challenges

  • Providing an opportunity to work with potential academic and industry partners for future collaborations

  • Establishing a presence at Cybathlon is aligned with SFU’s vision of becoming ‘The Engaged University’