I obtained my bachelor degree in Electronics Engineering by Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Spain). Captivated by the high potential underlying biologically inspired solutions and intrigued by the human brain as one of the most powerful computational machines, I focused my bachelor thesis on Artificial Neural Networks. Continuing that line of work, I am now pursuing my MSc in Electrical Engineering (Biomedical Microelectronics track) at TU Delft with a clear research interest on neuromorphic and neural-interface electronic circuits.

Probably, one of the main reasons I decided to collaborate with Project March was its strongly biomedical and humanitarian long term vision: “To give back full mobility to paraplegics”. In addition, the great deal of enthusiasm of all its members, the multidisciplinary of the team and the great facilities available at the Dream Hall make working in Project March a perfect way of applying all the knowledge obtained throughout my years at university.

Within Project March, I am a member of the Human Machine Interaction (HMI) department which deals with any aspect regarding the interaction between the pilot and the exoskeleton. The HMI department encompasses a wide range of sides of the development of the exoskeleton including design, ergonomics, human-like motion, feedback system... As an electrical engineer, the aspect of the HMI department I am involved the most in is the input device.

The input device is the system that allows the pilot to control the exoskeleton by translating his or her intent into actions. Initially, we proposed many solutions ranging from a smart-watch to voice control; from a simple joystick to an electroencephalography (EEG) cap measuring the electrical activity of the pilot’s brain. Later we narrowed the large list down to three input devices: buttons on a crutch associated with different actions in the exoskeleton, a Segway-like control system where the exoskeleton is driven by tilting the upper body and an “arm cross control” where the movement of the arms is mirrored to the legs.

Currently we are in the process of developing functional prototypes working closely together with experts and potential users. The development of such prototypes requires me to put into practice several things learnt throughout my bachelor and the first semester of my master. We use the micro-controller platform MBED (programmed in C++) for signal processing, control and communication purposes. We also have to deal with several sensors such as Inertial Measurement Units (IMU) and pressure sensors to capture the intent of the user. Furthermore, we use Matlab models of the exoskeleton to quickly pre-test the functionality of our systems.

In conclusion, Project March is a project with a clear biomedical and humanitarian goal and a great opportunity for an Electrical Engineer to get some hands-on experience in a vivid and inspiring environment.