Meet the Electrical Engineers of Project MARCH – Pim Verton
My name is Pim Verton. For the past three years, I've studied at the TU Delft. I was in a bachelor's programme of Electrical Engineering at the faculty of EWI (EEMCS). This year, however, I decided to do something different. I decided to apply my electrical engineering knowledge to a practical project by joining a Dreamteam. The team I chose was Project MARCH, which works to develop an exoskeleton. An exoskeleton is a robotic harness that a person with paraplegia or a spinal cord injury can wear, which enables them to stand up and walk and perform day-to-day activities just like people without a spinal cord injury. Project MARCH is, like other Dreamteams, a very multidisciplinary team. Meaning it consists of people from all kinds of different studies and backgrounds. From mechanical to clinical technology, from aerospace engineering to movement sciences, from civil engineering to industrial design and even policy analysis & management. But of course also computer science and electrical engineering.
Each person in our team has their own set of responsibilities, or shares them with one or two others. In my case, I'm responsible for the different interfaces the machine has, both with the pilot and with the outside world. This includes a couple of things. First, I work with a so-called communication slave. This is an electronic device containing a programmable microcontroller and a bunch of inputs and outputs. It can be programmed like an Arduino to interact with these inputs and outputs to, read out sensors or drive peripheral devices. One such peripheral device is the screen of the input device. The input device is another thing that I'm responsible for. It's how the pilot, the person with a spinal cord injury in the exoskeleton, decides what the exoskeleton should be doing. Other than that, there's some sensing, like an Inertial Measurement Unit and a few temperature sensors, and some feedback to the pilot, through a vibration motor and a piezo speaker.
In another blog, I'll gladly explain more about these specific tasks and how I'm handling them, so keep an eye out for it!