End-Point Impedance Measurements Across Dominant and Nondominant Hands and Robotic Assistance with Directional Damping
The goal of this paper is to perform end-point impedance measurements across dominant and nondominant hands while doing airbrush painting and to use the results for developing a robotic assistance scheme. We study airbrush painting because it resembles in many ways manual welding, a standard industrial task. The experiments are performed with the 7 degrees of freedom KUKA lightweight robot arm. The robot is controlled in admittance using a force sensor attached at the end-point, so as to act as a free-mass and be passively guided by the human. For impedance measurements, a set of nine subjects perform 12 repetitions of airbrush painting, drawing a straight-line on a cartoon horizontally placed on a table, while passively moving the airbrush mounted on the robot's end-point. We measure hand impedance during the painting task by generating sudden and brief external forces with the robot. The results show that on average the dominant hand displays larger impedance than the nondominant in the directions perpendicular to the painting line. We find the most significant difference in the damping values in these directions. Based on this observation, we develop a “directional damping” scheme for robotic assistance and conduct a pilot study with 12 subjects to contrast airbrush painting with and without robotic assistance. Results show significant improvement in precision with both dominant and nondominant hands when using robotic assistance.