Learning by demonstration for motion planning of upper-limb exoskeletons

Clemente Lauretti, Francesca Cordella, Anna Lisa Ciancio, Emilio Trigili, Jose Maria Catalan, Francisco Javier Badesa, Simona Crea, Silvio Marcello Pagliara, Silvia Sterzi, Nicola Vitiello, Nicolas Garcia Aracil, Loredana Zollo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Copyright: © 2018 Lauretti, Cordella, Ciancio, Trigili, Catalan, Badesa, Crea, Pagliara, Sterzi, Vitiello, Garcia Aracil and Zollo. The reference joint position of upper-limb exoskeletons is typically obtained by means of Cartesian motion planners and inverse kinematics algorithms with the inverse Jacobian; this approach allows exploiting the available Degrees of Freedom (i.e. DoFs) of the robot kinematic chain to achieve the desired end-effector pose; however, if used to operate non-redundant exoskeletons, it does not ensure that anthropomorphic criteria are satisfied in the whole human-robot workspace. This paper proposes a motion planning system, based on Learning by Demonstration, for upper-limb exoskeletons that allow successfully assisting patients during Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) in unstructured environment, while ensuring that anthropomorphic criteria are satisfied in the whole human-robot workspace. The motion planning system combines Learning by Demonstration with the computation of Dynamic Motion Primitives and machine learning techniques to construct task- and patient-specific joint trajectories based on the learnt trajectories. System validation was carried out in simulation and in a real setting with a 4-DoF upper-limb exoskeleton, a 5-DoF wrist-hand exoskeleton and four patients with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. Validation was addressed to (i) compare the performance of the proposed motion planning with traditional methods; (ii) assess the generalization capabilities of the proposed method with respect to the environment variability. Three ADLs were chosen to validate the system: drinking, pouring and lifting a light sphere. The achieved results showed a 100% success rate in the task fulfillment, with a high level of generalization with respect to the environment variability. Moreover, an anthropomorphic configuration of the exoskeleton is always ensured.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Neurorobotics
Issue numberFEB
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Assistive robotics
  • Dynamics movement primitives
  • Learning by demonstration
  • Machine learning
  • Motion planning


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