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Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a genetic disorder which progressively weakens (skeletal) muscles. The genetic mutation can be carried by both sexes, but the disease mostly affects boys. Muscular power decreases until young adults can no longer eat independently and end up being fully paralyzed. Young people suffering from DMD want to live their lives as normally as possible. People with DMD often do not lose power in their hands until the later stages of the disease, hence they can use assistive devices to allow them to manipulate objects.

Recent studies in people with DMD found that, even though the muscles no longer react and contract, electromygraphic (EMG) signals can still be measured, even from patients near the final stages of their illness.

In this BioRobotics minor, students will make a robotic manipulator, and use EMG signals to control its motion; the robot will give back independence to its user. The goal for each project team is to completely design and build a prototype of a robotic manipulator from scratch that would allow people with DMD to perform a certain task. This task will be determined and communicated at the start of the module. The robot is to be instructed what to do through measured EMG signals, such that it could be used by fully paralyzed individuals. However, students will actually be the ones to control test their own robots. Students are required to develop a keen ethical sense and integrate ethics and safety analyses into their design process.

The module (15 EC in total) consists of a design project (5.5 EC), and four courses: Programming of Embedded Systems (PES, 1 EC), Robot Kinematics (RKI, 2.5 EC), Control of Robotic Systems (CRS, 3 EC), and Biomedical Signal Analysis (BSA , 3 EC).


After completing the module, students will be able to:

· systematically approach a design project from user requirements to device evaluation, taking into account social and ethical consequences of enabling technologies.

· design a robot for application to a biomedical problem using multidisciplinary knowledge from mechanical, electrical, control and software engineering domains.

· design a low cost, lightweight robot with high performance using advanced knowledge of all multiphysics parameters involved in the synthesis of the multidisciplinary system.

· create kinematic and dynamic models that can be used to evaluate design and control concepts of a robot.

· Extract and interpret signals from the human body that can be used to instruct a robot.

· control a robot by use of a programmable microcontroller

Aanvullende informatie

An NXP FRDM-K64F MICROPROCESSOR has to be bought by each student after the first introduction lecture. Costs: 30 EUR.

N.B. The learning agreement signed by the student and his Examination Board must have reached the UT-contactperson before the enrollment ends.


Introductory courses in Statistics and Dynamics and Systems and Control Theory. Basic understanding of linear algebra is recommended.


Project exams:
The design project counts as 43% of the module grade. All project groups write a report and create a design poster to present and demonstrate the robot. Furthermore the design poster is used during individual oral examination. In summary: 1) the report, 2) the robot design and functioning, 3) the group presentation and 4) the individual oral examination will be graded separately. All four aforementioned items are weighted equally.

Project bonus points:
At most 1 bonus point for the project grade can be acquired from peers:

  • for best device (+0.5 grade point)
  • or the best poster (+0.5 grade point)

Bonus points are only valid if all other parts of the projects have been passed (grades higher than 5.5). I.e. bonus points cannot be used to compensate insufficient grades. The official allocation of the bonus points is done by the minor coordinator.

Course exams:
The four courses (CRS, RKI, BSA and PES) will be tested digitally through the Remindo system. The majority of the questions will be multiple choice questions. Effectively each of the four courses has one large test, but it is split in two parts over two days in weeks 5 and 9, and therefore covers two halves of the study material. On both test there will be no questions related to project lectures (General Design, CAD, Mechanical Design, Ethical Design).

All four courses (not the tests) need to have been passed with a 5.5 or higher before the course work is considered to have been concluded successfully.

The courses make up 57% of the minor grade.

  • Control of Robotic Systems: 20% of module grade, individual rating, given by staff.
  • Robot Kinematics: 17% of module grade, individual rating, given by staff.
  • Biomedical Signal Analysis: 20% of module grade, individual rating, given by staff.
  • Programming of Embedded Systems: individual rating, given by staff. You will need to pass PES with a 5.5 or higher to pass the project. The actual grade will not influence the project grade or minor grade and will not be shown as a course grade.

A second attempt, a re-exam, of any combination or all of the four courses (CRS, BSA, RKI and PES) is, again digitally, possible for everyone in week 10. There will be no further re-exams for CRS, BSA and RKI during the rest of the academic year. Exceptions are: individual project oral exams (2nd attempt) and for PES (3rd attempt reparation as an oral exam).


Generally: Lecture notes and online readers will be made available for free during the module.

BSA Book: Shiavi, "Introduction to Applied Statistical Signal Analysis", 3rd edition, ISBN: 978-0-12-088581-7. Freely accessible within UT network via

CRS Readers: Design & Control of Mechatronic Systems (Part 1) Design & Control of Mechatronic Systems (Part 2) (Can be bought at campus book store)


This Minor module lasts for 10 weeks, from September 2, up to and including November 8, 2019. This fully encompasses quarter 1A.

Typical weekly schedule (for weeks 1-8):

Monday and Friday: Unsupervised and supervised Project Work and incidental mandatory project-related lectures and meetings
Tuesday: PES (weeks 1-5 only) and RKI (weeks 1-8)
Wednesday: CRS
Thursday: BSA

Week 9 is reserved for finishing project work, Week 10 is reserved for finishing project work and re-exams.