CSU Researchers Awarded Grants Totaling $1 Million from National Science Foundation to Develop Cyber-Enabled Exercise Machines and Investigate Potential for More Efficient Industrial Robots through Energy Regeneration
Cleveland State University researchers were recently awarded two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants totaling $1 million: a four-year $800,000 grant from NSF Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) to develop and field-test two prototype cyber-enabled exercise machines (CEEMs) and a three-year $200,000 grant from NSF Sensors, Dynamics and Controls (SDC) to fund research into the design, control and optimization of energy-regenerating robots.
Unlike existing exercise machines, the proposed CEEMs will measure and process biomechanical variables and generate adjustments to their own resistance, providing users with cues that will ultimately maximize effectiveness and guarantee safety. The machines will be reconfigurable by software, permitting a wide range of exercises with the same hardware.
Researchers Hanz Richter, Ph.D., Dan Simon Ph.D., and Antonie van den Bogert, Ph.D., of CSU’s Washkewicz College of Engineering, and Kenneth E. Sparks, Ph.D., of the College of Education and Human Services, will develop and field-test the machines on CSU student-athletes. They seek to produce foundational research to help invent other machines that will adapt towards optimal exercise and guide users, including machines with purposes beyond athletic conditioning.
“The same foundations and methodologies can be followed to design machines for rehabilitation, exercise countermeasure devices for astronauts, and custom exercise devices for the elderly and persons with disabilities,” said Richter, the study’s principal investigator (PI). “The project has the potential to improve health of society members at various levels.”
Portions of the research will be conducted in CSU’s Parker Hannifin Human Motion and Control Laboratory, which provides motion capture and biomechanical analysis capabilities.
Dr. Richter, also the PI on NSF SDC grant, will use the additional funding to investigate regenerative energy systems as it relates to more efficient mobile, industrial and medical robotic systems.
Many industrial, consumer and medical products – robots, elevators, lift forks and more – involve masses in motion. Those motions are powered from energy sources, and always involve cycles of acceleration and deceleration. Conventional braking, the traditional method of deceleration, is inefficient because the heat generated from braking wastes energy. In contrast, regeneration involves surplus energy capture and storage into the power supply. This area of engineering is advanced and visible in electric and hybrid vehicles, but its understanding and optimal utilization in mobile and industrial robotics remains a challenging area of research. The outcomes of the investigation have the potential for significant energy savings in industrial installations and beyond.
“Mobile biomedical devices powered from electric energy sources such as wheelchairs, prostheses and exoskeletons are another target application of this research,” said Dr. Richter. “Optimal energy utilization in these devices will translate into lighter units with a reduced need for frequent recharging. Impaired people wearing advanced regenerative prostheses will be able to extend the range of their daily activities, improving their quality of life.”