Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects about 1.5 million individuals in the US alone. The consequences of ASD affect families, caregivers, and social structures. This thesis adds to a growing group of people performing research on mitigating the effects of autism through robotics. Children with ASD tend to interact with robots more easily than with other humans. The goal of robotic therapy is not to help children interact with robots, but to generalize the behavior to humans. An articulated spine is a key to human emotional expression through shaping, weight shifting, and flow. Despite this importance, this feature is all but lacking in robots. The primary contribution of this work is a novel 3-link planar spine with compliant, partial-gravity-compensating springs, capable of reproducing simple emotion-conveying poses for use in robot-based therapy for children with ASD. The design was based on the movements of expression experts using motion tracking markers. This information was used to optimize the number of links in the spine and their corresponding lengths. It is the goal of this research to make robotic therapy more effective for the children, raising the potential for life-changing results.
College and Department
Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Norton, Brandon M., "Articulated Spine for a Robot to Assist Children with Autism" (2014). All Theses and Dissertations. 5542.
assistive robotics, robot spine, optimization, motion capture, compliant mechanisms, compliant spring, autism