Nowadays, work-related musculoskeletal disorders have a drastic impact on a large part of the world population. In particular, low-back pain counts as the leading cause of absence from work in the industrial sector. Robotic exoskeletons have great potential to improve industrial workers’ health and life quality. Nonetheless, current solutions are often limited by sub-optimal control systems. Due to the dynamic environment in which they are used, failure to adapt to the wearer and the task may be limiting exoskeleton adoption in occupational scenarios. In this scope, we present a deep-learning-based approach exploiting inertial sensors to provide industrial exoskeletons with human activity recognition and adaptive payload compensation. Inertial measurement units are easily wearable or embeddable in any industrial exoskeleton. We exploited Long-Short Term Memory networks both to perform human activity recognition and to classify the weight of lifted objects up to 15 kg. We found a median F1 score of [Formula: see text] (activity recognition) and [Formula: see text] (payload estimation) with subject-specific models trained and tested on 12 (6M-6F) young healthy volunteers. We also succeeded in evaluating the applicability of this approach with an in-lab real-time test in a simulated target scenario. These high-level algorithms may be useful to fully exploit the potential of powered exoskeletons to achieve symbiotic human-robot interaction.
© 2023. The Author(s).