Pattern recognition-based real-time myoelectric control for anthropomorphic robotic systems : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Mechatronics at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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Advanced human-computer interaction (HCI) or human-machine interaction (HMI) aims to help humans interact with computers smartly. Biosignal-based technology is one of the most promising approaches in developing intelligent HCI systems. As a means of convenient and non-invasive biosignal-based intelligent control, myoelectric control identifies human movement intentions from electromyogram (EMG) signals recorded on muscles to realise intelligent control of robotic systems. Although the history of myoelectric control research has been more than half a century, commercial myoelectric-controlled devices are still mostly based on those early threshold-based methods. The emerging pattern recognition-based myoelectric control has remained an active research topic in laboratories because of insufficient reliability and robustness. This research focuses on pattern recognition-based myoelectric control. Up to now, most of effort in pattern recognition-based myoelectric control research has been invested in improving EMG pattern classification accuracy. However, high classification accuracy cannot directly lead to high controllability and usability for EMG-driven systems. This suggests that a complete system that is composed of relevant modules, including EMG acquisition, pattern recognition-based gesture discrimination, output equipment and its controller, is desirable and helpful as a developing and validating platform that is able to closely emulate real-world situations to promote research in myoelectric control. This research aims at investigating feasible and effective EMG signal processing and pattern recognition methods to extract useful information contained in EMG signals to establish an intelligent, compact and economical biosignal-based robotic control system. The research work includes in-depth study on existing pattern recognition-based methodologies, investigation on effective EMG signal capturing and data processing, EMG-based control system development, and anthropomorphic robotic hand design. The contributions of this research are mainly in following three aspects:  Developed precision electronic surface EMG (sEMG) acquisition methods that are able to collect high quality sEMG signals. The first method was designed in a single-ended signalling manner by using monolithic instrumentation amplifiers to determine and evaluate the analog sEMG signal processing chain architecture and circuit parameters. This method was then evolved into a fully differential analog sEMG detection and collection method that uses common commercial electronic components to implement all analog sEMG amplification and filtering stages in a fully differential way. The proposed fully differential sEMG detection and collection method is capable of offering a higher signal-to-noise ratio in noisy environments than the single-ended method by making full use of inherent common-mode noise rejection capability of balanced signalling. To the best of my knowledge, the literature study has not found similar methods that implement the entire analog sEMG amplification and filtering chain in a fully differential way by using common commercial electronic components.  Investigated and developed a reliable EMG pattern recognition-based real-time gesture discrimination approach. Necessary functional modules for real-time gesture discrimination were identified and implemented using appropriate algorithms. Special attention was paid to the investigation and comparison of representative features and classifiers for improving accuracy and robustness. A novel EMG feature set was proposed to improve the performance of EMG pattern recognition.  Designed an anthropomorphic robotic hand construction methodology for myoelectric control validation on a physical platform similar to in real-world situations. The natural anatomical structure of the human hand was imitated to kinematically model the robotic hand. The proposed robotic hand is a highly underactuated mechanism, featuring 14 degrees of freedom and three degrees of actuation. This research carried out an in-depth investigation into EMG data acquisition and EMG signal pattern recognition. A series of experiments were conducted in EMG signal processing and system development. The final myoelectric-controlled robotic hand system and the system testing confirmed the effectiveness of the proposed methods for surface EMG acquisition and human hand gesture discrimination. To verify and demonstrate the proposed myoelectric control system, real-time tests were conducted onto the anthropomorphic prototype robotic hand. Currently, the system is able to identify five patterns in real time, including hand open, hand close, wrist flexion, wrist extension and the rest state. With more motion patterns added in, this system has the potential to identify more hand movements. The research has generated a few journal and international conference publications.
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Robot hands, Robots, Control systems, Electromyography, Pattern perception