April 9, 2021
Intelligent Human-Robot Fusion: The Horizon of Assistive Robotics @ MERIIT Lab
Society aging has raised significant concerns regarding the balance between available resources and the needs of citizens for urban life of tomorrow. Robotic systems have been seen as a technological bridge that can deliver a wide range of medical services to patients relaxing the burden on the healthcare system and democratizing the accessibility to the needed services under the umbrella of telemedicine. The need has been pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic when almost all healthcare capacities were booked for fighting against the virus. Interactive robotic technologies have already revolutionized the field of neurorehabilitation and have been successful in accelerating neural recovery and motor restoration for patients living with neural damages (such as those caused by stroke, which is the leading cause of motor disabilities) through promoting brain plasticity. In addition to the above, neurorobotics (such as exoskeletons and prosthetic systems), interfaced with the human neural system, have been successfully utilized in the past decade to augment the motor capabilities of individuals living with the lack of mobility or a biological limb. Although such systems have shown a great potential for delivering rehabilitation and assistance, there still exist several challenges and needs to make the technology (a) more accessible in remote areas to facilitate equal opportunity for a wider range of patients, regardless of geographical and demographic barriers under the telemedicine umbrella, (b) more intelligent in delivering assistance, (c) more adaptable to the biomechanical signatures of the users, (d) and more robust in decoding neural responses. This has led to active research in the fields of neurorobotics, AI, and biosignal processing. Motivated by the notes above, this talk aims to report on recent developments from the MERIIT lab at NYU, covering multiple topics related to human-robot integration in the context of (tele)robotic rehabilitation and smart bionics.
S. Farokh Atashzar is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at New York University (NYU). He is also with NYU WIRELESS and NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP). Prior to joining NYU, Atashzar was a senior scientist in the Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, UK, sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada. From February 2017 to August 2018, he served as a post-doctoral scientist at Canadian Surgical Technologies and Advanced Robotics (CSTAR) center. His many awards included the highly-competitive NSERC Fellowship in 2018. He was ranked among the top 5 applicants in Canada for the 2018 NSERC PDF competition in the Electrical and Computer Engineering sector. Recently he has received an NSF-RAPID-COVID award to conduct research on the topic of smart wearable for detecting health anomalies using machine intelligence for COVID-19 patients. Also, he has recently received an NSF/FDA award based on his collaboration with the medical and regulatory sectors and to generate new computational brain-muscle connectivity models to analyze the recovery process of post-stroke patients. He serves as the associate editor on several journals, including IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RAL), Biomedical Engineering Online (a Springer-Nature journal). He has also served as a guest associate editor for several special issues published in Frontiers in Robotics and AI, Frontiers in Neuroscience, Journal of Medical Robotics Research, and IEEE RAL. He has also been actively contributing to organizing several conferences. In this regard, he has been the associate editor and publication chair for IEEE ISMR 2020-2021 and Technical Program Vice-Chair of 2021 IEEE International Conference on Autonomous Systems. He also organized several events such as workshops and symposia in IEEE ISMR 2019-2021, IEEE GlobalSIP 2017-2019, RehabWeek 2019, IEEE IROS 2017. His research has been published in 50 journal papers so far and several conference papers. He is also an organizer of the ICASSP 2021 PROGRESS Workshop (PROGRESS: PROmotinG DiveRsity in Signal ProcESSing). At NYU, he leads the Medical Robotics and Interactive Intelligent Technologies (MERIIT) Laboratory. The lab hosts state-of-the-art interface technologies and robotic systems to exploit bidirectional human-machine interactions to overcome natural, physiological, and pathological barriers.