Preventing worker’s musculoskeletal disorders with wearable inertial sensors: ergonomics and modelling of physical human-robot interactions

Avallone, Giulia (2023) Preventing worker’s musculoskeletal disorders with wearable inertial sensors: ergonomics and modelling of physical human-robot interactions, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Meccanica e scienze avanzate dell'ingegneria, 35 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10722.
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The most widespread work-related diseases are musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) caused by awkward postures and excessive effort to upper limb muscles during work operations. The use of wearable IMU sensors could monitor the workers constantly to prevent hazardous actions, thus diminishing work injuries. In this thesis, procedures are developed and tested for ergonomic analyses in a working environment, based on a commercial motion capture system (MoCap) made of 17 Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs). An IMU is usually made of a tri-axial gyroscope, a tri-axial accelerometer, and a tri-axial magnetometer that, through sensor fusion algorithms, estimates its attitude. Effective strategies for preventing MSD rely on various aspects: firstly, the accuracy of the IMU, depending on the chosen sensor and its calibration; secondly, the correct identification of the pose of each sensor on the worker’s body; thirdly, the chosen multibody model, which must consider both the accuracy and the computational burden, to provide results in real-time; finally, the model scaling law, which defines the possibility of a fast and accurate personalization of the multibody model geometry. Moreover, the MSD can be diminished using collaborative robots (cobots) as assisted devices for complex or heavy operations to relieve the worker's effort during repetitive tasks. All these aspects are considered to test and show the efficiency and usability of inertial MoCap systems for assessing ergonomics evaluation in real-time and implementing safety control strategies in collaborative robotics. Validation is performed with several experimental tests, both to test the proposed procedures and to compare the results of real-time multibody models developed in this thesis with the results from commercial software. As an additional result, the positive effects of using cobots as assisted devices for reducing human effort in repetitive industrial tasks are also shown, to demonstrate the potential of wearable electronics in on-field ergonomics analyses for industrial applications.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Avallone, Giulia
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Wearable sensors, IMU, Collaborative Robotics, AMS, Motion Capture systems, Ergonomics, Physical human-robot interactions
Data di discussione
29 Marzo 2023

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