Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Empowering Augmented Mobility of the Aging Population using Computational Musculoskeletal Simulation

Dr Yihui Zhao | University of Bristol; Dr Zhiqiang Zhang
Competition Sponsor: United Kingdom Research and Innovation
Awardee Year: 2023


Nearly 6 million older people nationwide (or half of the aging population size) are physically inactive, with significance consequences on health conditions and decreased mobility. The associated demand and supply of physical support care for the aging population cost the UK £5.3 million a year.

Empowering mobility enables the aging population to preserve their physical fitness and promote health-related quality of life. Assistive robots have shown great potential for combating the mobility challenges experienced by the aging population. However, there is not currently consensus about targeted joints and assistive strategies for assisting the older people with walking. Moreover, assistive robots fail to give direct clues on the effects of the user’s efforts and energy changes, which renders experimental evaluations less informative.

The project will develop a computational simulation platform to evaluate elderly people walking with assistive robots and provide quantitative scientific evidence for optimal designs and customized assistive strategies. The proposed platform will simulate an older person walking with assistive robots in a virtual environment by translating personalised characteristics of the aging population and models of assistive robots from the real world into digital forms.

By incorporating real-world walking scenarios, engineering can exploit changes in muscular efforts and energy to identify optimal robot design and customize assistive strategies. The proposed simulation platform provides a new solution to design and evaluate assistive robots for older people walking in an effective manner. It ultimately helps the aging population maintain mobility and increase life expectancy.

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