A Predictive Control Method for Human Upper-Limb Motion: Graph-Theoretic Modelling, Dynamic Optimization, and Experimental Investigations
Optimal control methods are applied to mechanical models in order to predict the control strategies in human arm movements. Optimality criteria are used to determine unique controls for a biomechanical model of the human upper-limb with redundant actuators. The motivation for this thesis is to provide a non-task-specific method of motion prediction as a tool for movement researchers and for controlling human models within virtual prototyping environments. The current strategy is based on determining the muscle activation levels (control signals) necessary to perform a task that optimizes several physical determinants of the model such as muscular and joint stresses, as well as performance timing. Currently, the initial and final location, orientation, and velocity of the hand define the desired task. Several models of the human arm were generated using a graph-theoretical method in order to take advantage of similar system topology through the evolution of arm models. Within this framework, muscles were modelled as non-linear actuator components acting between origin and insertion points on rigid body segments. Activation levels of the muscle actuators are considered the control inputs to the arm model. Optimization of the activation levels is performed via a hybrid genetic algorithm (GA) and a sequential quadratic programming (SQP) technique, which provides a globally optimal solution without sacrificing numerical precision, unlike traditional genetic algorithms. Advantages of the underlying genetic algorithm approach are that it does not require any prior knowledge of what might be a 'good' approximation in order for the method to converge, and it enables several objectives to be included in the evaluation of the fitness function. Results indicate that this approach can predict optimal strategies when compared to benchmark minimum-time maneuvers of a robot manipulator. The formulation and integration of the aforementioned components into a working model and the simulation of reaching and lifting tasks represents the bulk of the thesis. Results are compared to motion data collected in the laboratory from a test subject performing the same tasks. Discrepancies in the results are primarily due to model fidelity. However, more complex models are not evaluated due to the additional computational time required. The theoretical approach provides an excellent foundation, but further work is required to increase the computational efficiency of the numerical implementation before proceeding to more complex models.