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Course module: 201500061
Course info
Course module201500061
Credits (ECTS)15
Course typeModule
Language of instructionEnglish
Contact H. van der Kooij
PreviousNext 5
ir. N.W.M. Beckers
Lecturer B.J.F. van Beijnum
Lecturer D.M. Brouwer
E. Hekman
Lecturer A.Q.L. Keemink
Academic year2016
Starting block
Application procedureYou apply via OSIRIS Student
Registration using OSIRISYes
  • To systematically approach a design project from user requirements to device evaluation. (synthesis and evaluation, with a little bit of application and analysis)
  • To design a robot for application to a biomedical problem using multidisciplinary knowledge from mechanical, electrical, control and software engineering domains. (application and synthesis)
  • To design a low cost, lightweight robots (gearboxes with play and friction, limited resolution encoders, wooden structure) with high performance (accuracy, control bandwidth, speed) requires advanced knowledge of all multi-physics parameters involved in the synthesis of the multidisciplinary system.
  • To create mechatronic multi-body models that can be used to evaluate design and control concepts of a robot. (synthesis with a little bit of evaluation, application, and analysis)
  • To extract biological signals from the human body that can be used to control a robot. (application and synthesis)
Individuals with movement disorders have difficulty to participate in daily life. Robots have the potential to assist them when needed, and in this module we will design and build a robot that does just that.
Robotics is the branch of technology that deals with the design, fabrication, operation, and application of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. These technologies deal with automated machines that can take the place of humans in dangerous environments or manufacturing processes, or resemble humans in appearance, behavior, or cognition. Worldwide scientific and industrial demand for skilled engineers with advanced systems and control knowledge of robotic systems that can apply this knowledge in biomedical or general high-tech systems is strongly increasing.
The elective module BioRobotics applies high-tech systems &control knowledge of robotic design and fabrication to the biomedical interaction with the human body, and thereby combines a vast number of disciplines. During the module, a robot has to be built that interacts with the human body to improve the quality of life for the individual with a movement disorder. To enhance student motivation and participation, such an individual will be invited to participate in the project and to grade the final results.
Much of the interdisciplinary material and skills required in this module is new to most students, but with the help of an experienced and motivated staff, the results they have been achieving since 2013 are truly amazing.
In the project, students have to design and realise a robot.
During this, they will learn to:
•    Go through a design trajectory systematically, by analysing impaired human function, specifying user requirements and technical requirements, generating ideas and concepts, evaluating concepts using modelling and calculation, presenting a final design, realizing the system in hard- and software, evaluating the performance with human interaction, and reporting the results verbally and in writing.
•    Integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines such as biomedical, mechanical, electrical, software and control engineering.
•    Make mechatronic simulation models of two-dimensional robots, by which conceptual designs can be evaluated on performance criteria such as precision, speed, stiffness, strength, play, friction, natural frequencies and crossover frequency, on the basis of which the concepts can be adjusted.
•    Obtain and process biologic signals (EMG) for usage in steering a robot.
The project is chosen to maximize the application of the knowledge gained in the following courses:
•    Design of Robotic Systems for Human Interaction
•    Multibody Dynamics &Control
•    Biological Signal Analysis
BioRobotics Design Project: In the project, students have to analyse the needs of the participating patient, build the mechanical construction of the robot using plywood laser-cut to their specifications, to select motors and construction elements from specified catalogues, program the signal analysis and robot control methods in C++ in an embedded controller, and analyse the performance and acceptability of the device when interacting with humans. Most of this will be new to all students, but with the help of an experienced and motivated staff, the results they achieve are truly amazing. The project combined with the three courses leads to a very efficient and lasting knowledge transfer.
Design of Robotic Systems: The student learns how to design a mechatronic system that interacts with the human body using mechanical and electrical components and how to program an embedded controller. The focus lays on practical application of knowledge, including the theory learned during Multibody Dynamics &Control and Biological Signal Analysis.
Multibody Dynamics &Control: The student learns how systems of one and two rigid bodies behave in 1D and 2D, and how these systems can be controlled. Using this knowledge, students can create a model of their concepts to predict, and if needed modify, the control behavior before they build their robots.
Biological Signal Analysis: The student learns how to convert neurophysiological signals to useable control inputs for the robots. The signals are often highly non-linear and very noisy, and thus require extensive processing. Special attention is given to the time-frequency relation of signals, to be able to relate them to control theory of robotic systems.
In agreement with the TOM philosophy, the project and courses are strongly intertwined. All global learning objectives of the module are addressed through multiple educational forms, and therefore by multiple, complementary methods of assessment.
The global learning objectives are translated into course and project specific objectives:
•    Course objectives are assessed using three multiple-choice (MC) exams during the first eight weeks (on the Mondays in week 3, 6 and 9), and the project essay in the final week (10).
•    Project objectives are assessed through the evaluation of the design project outcomes (report, presentation) and the oral exam in the final week (10), and through the inter-student assessment of device performance and inter-group cooperation.
We use MC exams for multiple reasons. One, it allows us to test students just after they have seen and used the material in the first few weeks, to allow the teachers to modify the course materials when and where needed. This is especially useful as the entrance level of the students is hard to predict. Two, the time-separated interactions with the material (through the lectures, the MC exams, the project and the oral exam) is the best method to ensure retention.
The MC exams are given on Monday mornings in week 3, 6 and 9 of the module, and are based on the materials taught in the weeks before. Each MC exam consists of 12 questions from each course, resulting in a MC exam with 36 questions that takes two hours to complete. We explicitly allow complicated questions that require mathematical analysis and give up to seven possible answers per questions. The final grades in the module are given per course, thus based on three times one-third of each MC exam.
One major benefit to organizing MC exams in the above manner has been the reducing in scheduled overlap between assessment, lectures and the project. By scheduling the exams on Monday morning, students can focus on the upcoming courses and project work by Monday afternoon. Furthermore, the final MC exam is schedule for the Monday in the ninth week, leaving one full week to complete the design project without any interference from scheduled courses. Without the final exams, the final week (10) is completely devoted to group demonstrations and presentations, peer exchange of knowledge, and the oral exams.
Teachers, tutors and experts, using the following four components, assess the learning objectives of the design project:
•    Project essay: 25% of project grade, judged on ability. (knowledge, comprehension, analysis)
•    Design: 25%, originality and success. (application, synthesis)
•    Report: 25%, problem analysis and solution synthesis. (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation)
•    Presentation: 25%, content, presentation, execution. (synthesis, evaluation)
The tight integration of course and project objectives, in combination with the overlapping assessment methods using MC, written reports, verbal presentations, and device demonstration, guarantees the validity of the final module grade, and that it reflects the true abilities of the individual students. The reliability of the grade is enhanced by the wide range of evaluators (teachers, process tutors, domain experts, and even students themselves), in combination with the large number of grades (9 individual grades for the MC exam, 3 to 6 expert grades on each of the four project components, 6 peer rankings on each of two bonus conditions) and the ability to see all grades in relation to each other by the module coordinator. Transparency is high as all grades are published as soon as they are available.
Required materials
Lecture notes and online readers will be made available for free later.
Recommended materials
Ogata, "Modern Control Engineering", internationale versie van 5e editie, ISBN 978-0-13713-337-6,
Shiavi, "Introduction to Applied Statistical Signal Analysis", 3e editie, ISBN: 978-0-12-088581-7. Electronisch vrij toegankelijk op het UT netwerk via
Instructional modes




Final thesis
Presence dutyYes



Presence dutyYes

Presence dutyYes

Self study with assistance

Self study without assistance



Mechatronic Design Project

Report, project demo, presentation, oral exam

Control of Robotic Systems

Three separate MC tests (no final test).

Multibody Dynamics

Three separate MC tests (no final test).

Biomedical Signal Analysis

Three separate MC tests (no final test).

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