2014-03-10 at 16:00
Istitut de la Vision, Conference room, UCL building
Neuromorphic tactile coding for neuroprostheses
A neuro-robotic approach has been systematically pursued during a long-term research strand at The BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in order to endow a generation of robotic hand prostheses with an artificial sense of touch. Our ambition is the restoration of natural tactile sensation and perception in upper-limb amputees. The lecture will introduce selected case-studies representing the milestones towards the targeted objective, requiring the exploration of an understanding-generation loop by means of a close integration between neuroscience and robotics. This pathway was predicated through three main research actions. First, the development of tools enabling neuroscientific measurements and analyses on the human somatosensory system, such as mechatronic tactile stimulators suitable for electrophysiological recordings and for behavioural studies with psychophysical methods. Second, the development of a biomimetic artificial touch technology that codes tactile information in a neuromorphic fashion, i.e. with sequences of spikes, and its integration in the distal phalanx of underactuated robotic hands, so to allow its experimental assessment under both passive-touch and active-touch motion control strategies and to evaluate neuroscientific hypotheses on the human somatosensory system. Third, the porting of the developed artificial tactile sensing technology to the afferent pathways of the amputee.