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Handbook of Biomechatronics

Handbook of Biomechatronics

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Handbook of Biomechatronics

1,075 pagine
84 ore
Nov 29, 2018


Handbook of Biomechatronics provides an introduction to biomechatronic design as well as in-depth explanations of some of the most exciting and ground-breaking biomechatronic devices in the world today. Edited by Dr. Jacob Segil and written by a team of biomechatronics experts, the work begins with broad topics concerning biomechatronic design and components, followed by more detailed discussions of specific biomechatronic devices spanning many disciplines.

This book is structured into three main parts: biomechatronic design, biomechatronic components, and biomechatronic devices. The biomechatronic design chapter discusses the history of biomechatronics, conceptual design theory, biomechatronic design methods, and design tools. The next section discusses the technologies involved in the following components: sensors, actuators, and control systems. The biomechatronic devices chapters contains distinct examples of biomechatronic devices spanning visual prostheses to brain-machine interfaces. Each chapter presents the development of these biomechatronic devices followed by an in-depth discussion of the current state of the art

  • The only book that covers biomechatronic design, components, and devices in one comprehensive text
  • Accessible for readers in multiple areas of study, such as bioengineering, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and chemical engineering
  • Includes the most recent and groundbreaking advances and work in the biomechatronics field through industry and academic contributors
Nov 29, 2018

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Handbook of Biomechatronics - Academic Press



Jacob Segil Lead Editor

In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence

Sir Isaac Newton

The merging of man and machine has captured our collective imaginations for centuries. Popular entertainment created memorable characters from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) to the Six Million Dollar Man (1974) to the android hosts in the modern television series Westworld (2016). We are entertained by imagining our innate abilities augmented by technology. Our species has evolved to be bipedal, erect in posture, endowed with complex manual dexterity, and able to perform high-level cognitive functions including language and problem solving. But, we are still subject to innumerable pathologies that limit our abilities and lifespan. Can we develop technologies that measure, actuate, rehabilitate, augment, restore, or even replace our native physiological systems? The answer is yes. The field of biomechatronics is the integration of human physiology with electromechanical systems. This Handbook of Biomechatronics presents the foundational principles of this flourishing field and a series of case studies describing specific applications and technologies.

The Handbook of Biomechatronics will provide a resource for readers with a wide range of scientific and engineering backgrounds. The handbook will begin with a broad presentation of biomechatronic design and components followed by detailed case studies of specific biomechatronic devices spanning brain-machine interface to artificial hearts. The case studies span most physiological systems in the body, including the:

(1)muscular system (Chapters 3, 6–9, 13, 14)

(2)nervous system (Chapters 5, 6, 10)

(3)skeletal system (Chapters 6–9)

(4)digestive system (Chapter 11)

(5)reproductive system (Chapter 12)

(6)circulatory system (Chapters 13, 14)

Equally, the technology within these case studies spans an array of diverse fields like anatomy, physiology, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer engineering, neuroscience, and more. The inherent interdisciplinary nature of biomechatronics presents challenges to all researchers and requires collaborative efforts to produce impactful results. When successful, these discoveries promote the health and quality of life for generations to come.

Sir Isaac Newton founded our understanding of the laws of motion and gravitation, but saw the thumb to be divine. Our work in biomechatronics is founded with this same respect for our beautiful abilities. We simply have the hubris to believe that we can extend our abilities further. The Handbook of Biomechatronics will provide a glimpse into this field and hopefully motivate future inventors to attempt to make the divine even better.

Part One

Biomechatronic Design and Components

Chapter One


Ahmed R. Arshi    Biomedical Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran


Biomechatronics is a fascinating and sophisticated engineering and scientific field of study. It is concerned with the fusion of mechatronics and biological systems. The subject has an enormous potential for progress through biomimetics. The true elevation of biomechatronics is, however, in collaboration with neurosciences and neuromechanics toward performance enhancement, injury prevention, and rehabilitation of human being. Fusion of mechatronics and human body is a unique platform which broadly addresses four areas such as manipulation, locomotion, sensory interactions, and processing and control. Mathematical modeling in this multidisciplinary energetic engineering environment is a highly valuable segment of both analysis and synthesis. The biomechatronic school of thought requires an energy domain-independent approach to modeling and design of complex systems capable of interfacing with human body. Bond graph technology is presented as an exceptionally versatile modeling tool, with the capacity to include highly complex nonlinearities associated with soft and hard tissue biomechanics and the existing variabilities. Causal word graphs could provide the most rudimentary representation of synthesis. Here the ideal conceptual design, or ICD, could be considered as the criteria for any evaluations. The ICD can then be introduced to potential fields of activity or disciplines. A methodological progress plan is suggested in this chapter.


Biomechatronics; Bond graph technology; Neuromechanics; Human physiology; Design and synthesis


1Engineering Approach

2Fusion of Bio and Mechatronics



2.3Sensory Interactions

2.4Processing and Control




6Anatomy of Design

7Developments in Designs

8Energetic Interactions

9Design Philosophy

10Cohesion in Descriptions

11Mechanism of Interconnections

12General Design Methodology

12.1Modification of Systems Approach

12.2Intuition and Creativity in ICD

12.3Bond Graph Technology in Synthesis

12.4Design Criterion


Further Reading

Mechatronics is a fascinating field of study. It challenges the mind to think in multiple disciplines. No other engineering concept is so adept in encouraging instantaneous jumps from one field of engineering to another. An experienced mechatronic designer is in reality composing a piece of music for an orchestra of engineers. As individual musicians have a fluent command over their instrument, the mechatronic specialist is the script writer and produces the blue print for the route. Learning to play in, work with, or even lead a team of engineers is therefore an inseparable part of being a mechatronics specialist.

Mechatronics as the name implies brings mechanical concepts, electronic solutions, control strategies, and software technologies together under the same roof. A growing volume of literature provides ample supply of details addressing issues on each one of these fields. The subject aims at providing a wide range of technical competencies necessary to face multidisciplinary projects. Mechatronics mode of thought requires a systematic approach and the key role is perhaps played by experience in integration of diverse subsystems. A mechatronic specialist considers integration as an important part of design stage. Interaction with other systems is where the design or modeling teams define the outskirts of integration. In industrial or domestic environments, mechatronic systems assist interactions through action and response using actuator and control systems by processing information gained from sensory constructs. Such systems rely on feedback in closed circuits and prediction in open control strategies. That is why the nature and the characteristics of the environment with which the system is interacting play a key role.

Biological systems on the other hand, are inherently multiscale and multidisciplinary. Biologically inspired mechatronic or biomimetic systems are always eye-catching items on show at science and engineering exhibitions. The most fascinating technologies are however, those that interact with human body. Human body as a biological system is exceptionally sophisticated and when efforts are made to decipher its functional principles it turns out to be an awe-inspiring engineering system. One that imitating or surpassing its intricate potentials is exceedingly difficult. Today's technological advances are yet to grow to the level of sophistication exhibited by biological and in particular, physiological systems.

Human body as a physiological system is susceptible to deviations from physiological or normal states. Deviations in function better known as pathological states could be observed in individual organs or could even adversely affect the entire system. Changes in physiological states commonly encountered in human body are accompanied by an unending and ever-increasing necessity for identification, categorization, diagnosis, or intervention by engineering and in particular, mechatronic solutions. This amazing multidisciplinary physiological environment is in fact quite suitable for the implementation of mechatronic systems.

The simple but highly effective electrocardiogram or ECG test for example, which is routinely performed in cardiological assessments provides a portrayal of the electro-mechanochemical interactions taking place in the heart. A complete ECG test is a window to electrophysiological performance of all cellular groups in that organ. The device output, in the shape of an ECG signal, could be considered as an indicator of electrophysiological interactions at the cellular level. It is also an indication of the manner by which electrical signals are propagated throughout various cell families leading to contractions throughout the muscular structure and resulting in blood flow output. The traditional engineering approach when facing a uniquely challenging environment of this complexity, requires fundamental metamorphoses by subscribing to a new mode or school of thought.

Biomechatronics is the discipline that aims to integrate mechatronic and biological and in particular the human physiological systems. The potentials offered by human body are so diverse that traditional approach to engineering solutions is routinely challenged. Cellular characteristics leading to the functioning of different organs create situations where established engineering principles are easily overstretched. The traditional mechatronic educational programs may thus require an overhaul and other contributions to make the new generations of mechatronic specialists fully versed with characteristics of human body and biological systems in general. The new generation of multidisciplinary specialists will have to be prepared to help biorobotic, biotechnology, and biomechatronic startups as well traditional robotic and automation forums.

Hand Book of Biomechatronics aims at establishing the infrastructure for this school of thought.

1 Engineering Approach

The design of multiscale and multidisciplinary systems evolves around an efficient integration of both biomechatronic and human body systems. A successful integration requires an appreciation of how engineering principles could be adopted to provide a mathematical description of function and performance of anatomical and physiological systems. The human body should in effect be viewed as a sophisticated engineering system. There are numerous instances to support this argument.

Nonspecific low-back pain, which is experienced by many at some point throughout their lives, with no tangible medical solution, could be viewed as a structural problem with a biomechanical solution in the form of design of exercise programs. Phenomena such as heat and mass transfer, fluid flow, translational and rotational movements are areas where Newtonian and non-Newtonian mechanics govern the functions of organs. Biomechanics provides the constitutive equations describing physical characteristics of both the soft and hard tissues. The constitutive equation for a soft tissue for example, could describe the organ characteristics using a psuedoviscoelastic approach.

Biomechatronic specialists, on the other hand, might be required to mimic biological systems. Biomechanics as a pillar of biomimetics is not simply the application of mechanical principles to biological systems. The concept has far reaching implications as the nature of biological systems dictate a more complex version of basic fundamental principles. Nonhomogenous anisotropic composite tissues with elastic properties modulated by age, sex, and pathological or environmental factors create exceptional challenges. The traditional engineering principles, in isolation, might therefore fail to provide convincing designs for the interface between biomechatronic and physiological systems.

This is where the biomechatronic specialist makes an inspiring contribution to engineering sciences; and this contribution can be best manifested at the design stage.

2 Fusion of Bio and Mechatronics

An energetically optimized solution to fusion of physiological and mechatronic systems relies heavily on the design of interfaces. Design of an interface will have to embrace biocompatible combinations of mechanical, electromagnetic, electronic, optical, and audio systems. The interface of such systems with the intended physiological system is growing in sophistication. The newly developed robotic systems imitate horse movements used in hippotherapy or therapeutic riding, taking advantage of the dynamic input by the horse, to the human neuromuscular system. This is achieved through simulation of three-dimensional mechanical inputs exerted to human upper extremity during horse gait. In other instances, continuously developing retina tracking systems used in transportation or military systems represent a prime example of an effective interface. Here, the contributions made by subjects such as man-machine interface and optomechatronics have made biomechatronics even richer in content. Fusion of bio and mechatronics should further address biocompatibility guidelines to ensure complete functionality and reliability.

Fusion of biomechatronic systems with human body has roots in four areas of manipulation, locomotion, sensory interactions, and finally processing and control.

2.1 Manipulation

The ability to manipulate objects in daily tasks is often hindered by injuries or neuromuscular disorders. Robotics is the recognized domain responsible for the development of manipulators in industrial environments. The multidisciplinary approach embedded in robotics is the most widely followed forum for mechatronic research. The fusion of mechatronic and physiological systems is perhaps best manifested in the field of bio-robotics, which is growing in two avenues of bio-mimetics and rehabilitation robotics with many overlapping areas. The former aims at providing services to human issues by imitating a suitable biological system such as an animal, whereas the latter focuses on interventional potentials for robotic devices.

In robotic surgery, the accuracy and precision exhibited in the manipulation of an array of instruments during surgical procedures poses some of the most exciting challenges in decades to come. Interventional radiology as a specialized medical field is also a ripe environment for the implementation of telechiric robotic systems when navigation, interaction, and tactile recognition are corner stones of autonomous robotic surgery.

2.2 Locomotion

Biomechatronic specialists have been fascinated with animal and human locomotion for many years. Human motion studies, from sit-to-stand tasks, to heavy load manipulation and agile skilled athletic performances are still at the forefront of opportunities and promise new horizons. A major contribution is also found in walking or running gait by biomechatronic designs. In the most advanced biomechatronic laboratories the focus is placed on human locomotion from walking gait to remarkable solutions to above-knee amputee requirements. Biomimetics is also used to imitate biodynamic characteristics of physiological systems.

Walking or running gait however, present enormous engineering challenges. In human gait, a large number of muscles are recruited in coordination so that the lower extremity can exhibit an almost symmetric dynamic behavior. This highly influential aspect of human mobility is governed by uniquely adaptable neuromuscular control strategies which rely on variability in foot placement and neural plasticity to entertain learning and skill enhancement. Here, balance and dynamic stability present the core of any optimizations of cost functions in the design of biomechatronic systems.

2.3 Sensory Interactions

Human body in both physiological and pathological states can be assumed as a closed system with an array of input/output ports through which energetic interactions occur with the surrounding. Information regarding the nature of interaction is translated from a variety of energy domains by neuromechanical sensory systems. The design of suitable biomechatronic interfaces with neuromechanical sensory systems require an in-depth understanding of the neuroanatomy. Sensors in body transform external or internal stimuli from multitudes of energy domains to an information carrying signal. Involuntary actuation signals are also transformed into other energy domains to control the operation of cellular structures through biochemical interactions like metabolism, whereas complex movements such as skilled performance encountered in athletic agility drills, require a different array of actuation signals. Body sensors rely on identification and quantification of internal or external stimuli like pressure, heat, texture, vibration, and tensile or compressive deformations. Highly dedicated mechanoreceptors for example, take advantage of biomechanical deformations to produce time-dependent neuromechanical signals. Such systems are interesting for those involved in biomimetics and biosensor design as well as those involved in rehabilitation robotics or smart skin technologies.

2.4 Processing and Control

Body sensors are considered as a highly advanced data acquisition and information gathering system. The biophysical/biochemical mechanisms governing processing of gathered data result in involuntary mechanical movements like heart rate control or voluntary artistic movements such as in painting. Design of interactive interfaces which rely on this data will attract more attention in biomechatronic circles in the years to come. Current efforts rely on noninvasive physiological techniques like those used in electroencephalogram (EEG), electromyogram (EMG) or through nerve conduction studies. The information obtained using these devices require advanced real-time signal processing and matching control algorithms. The data gathered provides a complex array of real-time signals which could be utilized in real-time operational biomechatronic systems. A gap between the undecipherable large data and often ingenious solutions to control problems requires an alternative approach. This alternative mode of thought needs new biosensor technologies to access the neuromechanical systems with much better defined data gathering algorithms. Here, combinations of implantable myoelectric sensors and predictive controller approach using learning strategies can contribute toward real-time user intent recognition. Advances in neuroscience are the key component of a sound and solid biomechatronic future. Neuroscience is the holy grail of biomechatronics. The propositions made by perceptual control theories are an example of possibilities in developing control strategy.

Neuromechanical biomechatronic systems are and will be in a good position to offer true personalized solutions to many human concerns. The signal processing and control problems in personalized biomechatronic systems need to address cognitive and perception issues through emphasis on integration with motor control and motor learning concepts. Although the core of current research funding is directed at such systems as all terrain autonomous vehicles and exoskeletons, the subject will be gradually moving toward a new generation of integration with the human neuromusculoskeletal system. This is where proprioception and enhancement of peripheral information acquisition systems could provide remarkable design opportunities for biomechatronics.

3 Modeling

The multidisciplinary nature of mechatronic systems when combined with an exceptionally unique and diverse set of not totally understood neurophysiological systems dictate the necessity for a suitable multilingual modeling technology. The multiscale, multidimensional, and pseudodeterministic nonlinear dynamic characteristics of such systems pose immense challenges to established intradisciplinary modeling methodologies. Electrophysiological energetic interactions taking place at the cellular level are governed by multi-domain energetic paths encompassing biochemical, ionic, heat and mass transfer across cellular membranes, and broadly, initiation and propagation of action potentials throughout the cellular structures. Any inter- or intradisciplinary modeling apparatus should be well equipped with the potentials to include nonlinearities in a model which is based on a linear analysis scaffold. To include all different modeling languages in a biomechatronic design project is rather challenging, if not difficult. An ensuing outcome of this multilingual approach to modeling is restrictions on communications among disciplinary project managers. Mathematical models capable of embracing aspects such as electrophysiology which govern neuromechanical functions require mastery, fluency, and command over complex interacting biochemical, biomagnetic, bioelectrical, heat and mass transfer, biofluid dynamics, and movement biomechanics. Tissue biomechanics in conjunction with neuromusculoskeletal descriptions are required at times to allow full investigations of the manipulation and locomotion while a large set of data is being processed to implement any control strategies by the central nervous system.

There are two basic approaches to modeling in biomedical engineering. The first utilizes classical disciplinary mathematical modeling where a description of a combination of function and structure are produced to simulate the system. The second approach is in favor of looking at the physiological systems as a black box and various algorithms such as neural networks are adopted to learn the dynamics of the system. These two, often conflicting modes of thought, should in biomechatronics be considered as two sides of the same coin. The importance of constructional modeling cannot be over emphasized as the current applications of such intelligent algorithms or soft computing in design of biomechatronic systems is in need of further development. The black box approach, however, can be used effectively in design of the control strategies. The fundamental problem with the current knowledge of human physiology is that although a vast array of knowledge is constantly being produced by biological, physiological, or electrophysiological laboratories, there still is a wealth of knowledge to be gained so that the existing gaps are covered. Furthermore, the current mathematical tools used in modeling also require further developments. The continuous advancements of microprocessors are reaching the state where principles of predictive controller could be revisited so that real-time simulation results could predict immediate necessary responses of the biomechatronic system in daily interaction of human subject with his/her environment. Here, the mentality of a generalized mathematical model could shift toward tailored solutions. Tailored biomechatronic systems require individualized and personalized models of the system which could in turn play an important role in control strategy.

Furthermore, problems such as intent are increasingly recognized as high-level cost functions against which standard neurophysiologically obtained parameters do not necessarily lead to suitable models. Intent recognition could require real-time integration and processing of a multitude of sensory inputs. Modeling of such complex systems require an alternative but reliable technology. Bond graph technology could provide a measurable solution to modeling and design problems.

4 Variability

Stand with an arm stretched out facing and just touching a white board with a marker pen. Close your eyes for a minute or two until the end of the exercise. With every exhalation, place a point on the white board with stretched arm and then hang your arm down and relax (be careful not to leave a mark on your garments). Repeat the exercise until some 40 points are placed on the board. You can then open your eyes and look at your masterpiece. You are now facing a cluster of spreading points. You might even be pleasantly surprised by how wide spread the points are. The spreading marks on the white board are a reflection of how your neuromuscular system is capable or rather incapable of repeating a simple task with any degree of accuracy and precision in the absence of visual feedback. This is variability. Variability is the culmination of functional characteristics of a highly nonlinear physiological system. The complexities and nonlinearities associated with electrochemical/neuromechanical aspects of physiological systems are not the only challenge facing the fusion of mechatronics and human body. The mathematical constructs which form the back bone of engineering concepts are also not fully equipped to handle the variabilities inherent in physiological systems. As an example, to fully describe the dynamic characteristics of human locomotion, parametric modeling is required to describe the functions using nonexact individual coefficients with a range of values to cater for a wide spectrum of possibilities from genetic disorders to Olympic standard athletes. Recent studies on variability attribute this dynamic behavior to neural plasticity and thus a necessary trait in learning new skills. How is variability tackled in biomechatronics?

5 Integration

For a newly setup biomechatronics laboratory or design center, it is paramount to take advantage of valuable experiences gained in different engineering industries. In handling projects large and small, engineers adopt a systematic methodology known as project management. The approach provides a guideline for the new laboratory to exhibit an efficient dynamic behavior and to perform and deliver products as planned and reach intended goals. The guidelines could be used in formation of a specific organizational dynamic behavior to address sponsor's and stakeholder's requirements.

ISO 21500 could be considered as an industrially acceptable guide on how to manage the multidisciplinary projects. Technical integration in such laboratories or research centers require biomechatronic management. Any new concept has to go through a diversification stage until an optimal solution is identified. In biomechatronic centers, this search, research, and finally development consumes time, technical resources, and funds, which are the basic building blocks of a project. Integration has roots in the initiation stage and solidify during the planning stage of a project where modeling acts as the essence of design. Once again, a multilingual approach to mechatronic design could hamper integration by adversely affecting the communications between the members of the project team and hence a unifying technological approach is crucial.

6 Anatomy of Design

In solving human problems, the engineer began a practical manipulation of scientific values resulting in new ideas and tools. The inventiveness and creativity accompanying this practical manipulation are considered as the foundation stones of what is called design. Although design represents a profound intellectual achievement, it has not until recently been approached as a distinct discipline or a science on its own right. The barrier to such an approach has always been mounted on two pillars, one of which is deeply embedded in subjectivity, and the other in specialization. The former is nourished by what is against structuring of inventiveness and adoption of a set of unique criteria, and the latter would force the design concept to be cloaked by intradisciplinary established routines.

Intuition and creativity form a part of design hierarchy known as synthesis. The causal structure of mental process behind spontaneity in synthesis is not tangible and defies any structuring attempts. Spontaneity in design could be a personal skill and an organizational asset. The challenge in promoting design as a discipline or science is how to approach design and in particular the synthesis, systematically.

Biomechatronic design, in the current context, is primarily concerned with functionality and reliability. The approach adopted by biomechatronic school of thought embarks on associating all attributes of design to the engineering aspects. For this association to materialize, a common ground in the shape of a general design methodology is required. The lack of an effective general methodology for design in biomechatronic systems is an insufficient emphasis upon general methodologies in engineering. This has never been more pronounced than in fusion of mechatronics and biological systems; resulting in an evident challenge faced by existing intradisciplinary design tools and methodologies. An appreciation of design anatomy could therefore assist in distinguishing a qualified location for the design methodology within a biomechatronic project environment.

The thought process involved in a design takes an iterative shape resulting in a three-phase pattern of divergence, systematization, and convergence. Each of these phases has proposed techniques, methods, and procedures within individual engineering disciplines. The total sum of these phases are termed as the design process. In this process, analysis of the search space and generation of solution variants form the general content of the diverging phase. This is followed by the structuring activities which are primarily a combination of synthesis, intradisciplinary methodologies, and designer skills and experience. The converging phase, on the other hand, predominantly consists of the selection process with two steps of evaluation and decision. Here an important factor is the nature of the criteria which is used in determining the value scales and the basis of comparison for assessing the range of solution variants. Evaluation emerges as the central element in the design process where the design tools begin to play their role.

7 Developments in Designs

The progressive advancements of biomechatronic systems are occasionally marked by groundbreaking contributions of unique designs. A closer scrutiny, however, reveals that in practice a step by step and incremental development of already proven technologies is the norm. It might therefore prove substantially more tangible to place the emphasis of a design methodology on integration of devices and exiting elemental constituents in obtaining a new system. Systematic synthesis as the core of design would therefore be affected by what comes before and after it. Formulation and appropriate packaging of design requirements is what comes before the synthesis stage and evaluation of a proposed idea is what comes after. A methodical and systematic approach to these two parts can provide an insurance and a safety net for the multidisciplinary designer. A systematic approach to physically realizable solutions requires a solid platform upon which all else is built. Modeling based on mathematical isomorphism is the natural platform for multidisciplinary specialists to examine the solution space. This mode of thought brings the argument back to the invaluable potentials of modeling in design. A suitable platform for design through modeling provides a forum for the evaluation of the possible solutions to a particular problem. Here, it is important to rely and take advantage of an already proven approach to modeling of multidisciplinary systems. A suitable methodology would have to be based on a set of fundamental principles upon which all energetic engineering systems evolve.

8 Energetic Interactions

All engineering systems rely on interchanges of energy. This fundamental concept is the key to a unified language necessary for modeling and design of biomechatronic systems. From electrophysiological exchanges to injury prevention in man-machine systems, it is the flow, storage, connectivity, and changes in energetic structures that govern all activities. Mathematical descriptions of flow of energy and power within system elements is perhaps the most vivid and tangible portray of how the system is performing.

Bond graph technology is an approach to multidisciplinary modeling. The term technology is used to indicate considerable strength in adaptive capacities. It is also used to indicate tangible, repeatable, and reliable methodologies when dealing with well-established systems as well as ill-defined problems in all energetic engineering spheres.

When a biomechatronic designer is looking at the neuromuscular systems of an animal or human being, he or she is facing a fascinating engineering system; fascinating but expansively complex, an engineering system which is uniquely adaptive while extremely sensitive to perturbations. A long list of chemical, physical, and other factors interact to build this ultimate engineering temple. The complexities, some known and many still unknown, encountered in human body encourages an engineer to adopt a simplifying approach while being fully aware of the inability of current scientific forums in providing efficient descriptions for many biological or physiological events. This simplifying mode of thought is precisely what should be addressed when design is promoted in biomechatronic educational platforms. Simplification of a complex system requires a well-coordinated pattern and a well-tested approach. A solid foundation for simplification could be mathematical descriptions of energetic interactions among the elemental constituents.

Bond graph technology could provide a mathematical description of exchanges of energy throughout the entire system and between the system and its environment. Biomechatronic designer can construct a suitable and scale-based model of subsystems and interfaces while feeling confident that all possible nonlinearities could be added, as and when required. A simplified and linearized starting point is what the dreams are made of, in modeling and design. From mechanoreceptors to right-hand punch kinematics, and from concert pianist to degenerative diseases, it is the flow of energy and power that is the common denominator. It is the energetic descriptions that provide a tangible insight into the often clogged mechanisms governing performance of this sophisticated engineering system known as human body. The mathematical descriptions, however, are based on fundamental rules of interaction set by causal laws. Causality provides the skeleton for simplicity while allowing nonlinearities of all shape, size, and form to be included at a later stage. The concept of causality is based on basic bidirectional relationship between the two systems where the first system is exerting an effort or flow, and the second system responds by exerting flow or effort onto the first.

9 Design Philosophy

The relationship between any event (consequence) and its cause (antecedent) is primarily dependent on the observer field (discipline) and his sphere of realm. It is he/she, based on intradisciplinary criteria, who establishes the connections and performs the selection for an individual cause. Any discipline, on the other hand, inherently shapes the boundaries for the generic causal relations. Here, mathematical isomorphic relations could be adopted to define and describe the characteristics and properties of systems and subsystems. This makes the elemental causal characteristics independent of the observer and the disciplinary criteria. Such formalization would have a direct bearing on any synthesizing technique which may adopt these elements as the building blocks. An element, with a set causal structure, can therefore indicate a particular antecedent within but independent of the nature of the system in which the event has taken place. The two problems of causal connection and causal selection may therefore be solved through:

1.Question on the existence of causal relations (causal connections) is by-passed; by the virtue of existence of an element, the existence of causal relations has already been established.

2.The relative importance of antecedents with direct bearing on an event may be established by appropriate backtracking of the set causal relations (e.g., the cause for element A to behave in a particular manner, is the effect of element B whose cause may be the algebraic summation of the effects of a number of elements). The intradisciplinary subjectivity in the causal selection process may thus be eliminated. The system elements defined and described by logico-mathematical causal relations may also be adopted in the synthesis of new systems, as well as in the analysis of already existing ones. This approach to synthesis may embrace a number of characteristics such as the following:

a.Introduction (existence) of an element independent of the observer (discipline) would indicate a predictable effect (consequence). Therefore, the causal relationships presented in the synthesis of a conceptual design would represent a structure which may not change when the observer is altered. This remains true unless the nature of functional connectedness is altered.

b.Contribution of individual elements to the system output can be established and critically analyzed, independent or within the structure of a discipline.

c.Existence of causal conflicts is an indication of missing or unaccounted relations, and leads to model expansion or reconfiguration.

Combination of the two concepts of causality and systems isomorphism would qualify an alternative approach to bond graph description techniques with emphasis on synthesis as opposed to analysis.

10 Cohesion in Descriptions

A purely mathematical approach to systems analysis is all too often an inadequate means of providing full appreciation of interactions present in a system. In engineering, however, a view that a picture is worth a thousand words has generally prevailed and the starting point of analysis of any dynamic system is commonly a systematic diagram or other graphical or pictorial representations. Excellent graphical representations and corresponding analytical techniques already exist in different domains. When multidisciplinary systems are under investigations and biophysical domains are coupled, the coherency of graphical representation techniques evaporates and the situation is no longer routine.

The graphical or pictorial descriptions of such complex systems are commonly extremely generalized mixture of disciplinary notations. Here simple linguistic phrases are often used in crucial coupling junctions. The multitudes of connections in biomechatronic systems could thus result in a nonuniform combination of schematic diagrams, equations, words, and semipictorial representations.

11 Mechanism of Interconnections

The bond graph technology used for studying dynamic systems consists of subsystems linked together by lines representing power bonds. When major subsystems are being modeled by words, the subsequent system description would be called a word graph, an example of which is shown in Fig. 1. This type of description would be very important at the elementary stages of synthesis in establishing structures in the way they bonded effort and flow variables at the subsystem ports, sign conventions, and power interchanges. In bond graph notation, a bond with half arrow (⇀) indicates the direction of positive flow of power and a full arrow (⇢) indicates an active bond or a signal flow (low-power information bonds). A word bond graph is very useful for sorting true power interactions from the one-way influences of active bonds. To distinguish which of the excitation and response variables at a power port are actually input to the multiport, a further piece of information must be supplied which is the causal stroke, denoted by a small vertical line at the end of the bond.

Fig. 1 A word graph representation of an automatic insulin injection device.

A study of excitation-response causalities is the unique feature of bond graphs. Comparison of the two connections, shown in Fig. 2, presents the way causal strokes are implemented. The position of the causal stroke at either end of a bond indicates direction of effort. Flow would consequently be in the opposite direction.

Fig. 2 Schematic description of the relationship between Power direction and causality between two systems A and B.

In general, whether the effort is entering or leaving a system determines position of causal strokes on a bond. A distinction should at this point be made between a half arrow placed at the end of a bond and a causal stroke. The four possible causal combinations are shown in Fig. 3.

Fig. 3 Alternative relationships between causality and power between two systems A and B.

Here each bond implies the existence of both excitation and response signals. This is important since power interactions require a pair of bilaterally oriented signals. Bond graphs are a more efficient means of describing models in comparison to other conventional techniques on the basis of quantity and quality of information which is being conveyed. System visualization through bond graph notation is far more effective than that permitted by state equations or other multidisciplinary graphical representations. The subsystems considered from the point of view of power exchanges and external port variables could be categorized by a limited number of fundamental multiports. These functioning components of a model are idealized mathematical versions of real components of material and physical models such as resistive, capacitive, inertial, transducing, and transmission elements. Although it may not be possible to provide full descriptions for every probable system through this reductionist approach, a vast majority can be comfortably synthesized, analyzed, and handled. The important issue at hand is that in all such elements, manipulation of the Poynting vector provides an established mathematical expression defining an energetic characteristic which is used to describe the causal structure.

The approach provides a solid mode of thought toward modeling which could also be adopted as the basis for synthesis. If the rules for interconnections that are based on causality are observed, it is possible to conceptualize many novel biomechatronic systems which are physically realizable and causally valid but independent of any disciplinary constraints.

12 General Design Methodology

12.1 Modification of Systems Approach

Among many contributions to systematic design, the systems approach takes a superior position due to its inherent harmony with the concept of systematic design. The systems approach aims at producing the optimum design for complex systems and it reflects the general appreciation that complex problems are best tackled in a series of defined steps. These being problem definition, goal setting, solution development, solution analysis, solution evaluation, optimum decision, and finally preparation for physical realization.

A brief study of the proposed steps makes it quite clear that the aim of the approach is a broad and generalized outline or a frame of action. The apparent overgeneralization is that particular attribute which renders the approach open to criticism due to an inherent inability to address specific design issues. Although conceptually acceptable, the generality has left the most important steps of goal identification and synthesis to the designer's discretion and his understanding of disciplinary design techniques. To obtain a general methodology for biomechatronic design, the overgeneralization associated with the systems approach, or any other systematic approach, has to be overcome.

To begin with, each of the steps set out in the systematic approach take up on themselves a unique configuration and meaning when applied to a particular discipline. Although the pattern of the process might have remained conceptually similar for various designs, the actual process would be quite different within the structure of various disciplines. To formalize a structure applicable to many if not all disciplines, it is essential to concentrate upon those areas in the systems approach or stages of the design process that are most likely to be affected when applied to different fields of science. The objective is to identify and isolate all such areas and more importantly to abstract and structuralize their common characteristics.

The series of activities commonly performed by practicing designers are affected by the nature of design environment and the designer's intuition and creativity. The ultimate objective of a designer has always been to obtain some optimum solution in the face of imposed constraints. The search area, on the other hand, may already be isolated by the existence of such constraints and these can be primarily dictated by the disciplines involved. Thus by keeping the constraints away from the most elementary stages of the design process, it is possible to synthesize the system independent of any discipline or any energy domain. Adoption of this approach in synthesis is acceptable in a general conceptual term and in an optimum form, an ideal conceptual design (ICD). It follows that the designer can be encouraged to produce an ICD independent of any discipline. This abstract model of a system, however, must represent true and intended functionality (Figs. 4 and 5).

Fig. 4 Conventional inclusion of constraints in the early stages of design.

Fig. 5 Retraction of all possible constraints from the early stages of the design process.

12.2 Intuition and Creativity in ICD

During system evaluation stage of a design, solution variants may be compared against some form of a criterion function manifested in the shape of mathematical functions or a series of statements and figures or a list of objectives. Adoption of ICD as the criterion function, on the other hand, could provide a solid platform to make quantitative comparisons among solution variants. The proposition rests on the distinction made by the systems approach between the stages of solution variant identification and solution evaluation. Although such distinctions are commonly quite valid, there is no analytical structure to the content of evaluation stage. The efficient approach to any design problem is to design an ideal conceptual system irrespective of any energy domain that may be involved. The proposed design can then be analyzed to establish the fundamental characteristics of the model. The relationship between the constituent elements and in particular their effects on one another, within the causal structure of the system as a whole, could be critically analyzed and well understood. As a result, the designer gains a clear understanding of the system and is able to benefit from the information feedback to improve on the design or even reshape the original structure of the problem. The design can therefore, to a large extent, be completed and the root characteristics established prior to introduction to any discipline or energy domain. The formation of the solution variants which may be the consequence of introducing the ICD into alternative energy domains can be achieved through appropriate substitution of corresponding disciplinary elements. The particular advantages or disadvantages of individual disciplines quickly becomes apparent. Here, the extent and range of solution variants has already been decided upon through the complexities of the criterion function. Any necessary extensions of the model to cater for any particular requirement associated with any one discipline could also affect the choice of disciplinary elements. Handling of overriding design specifications and the general decision-making process are all based on an analytical structure which is derived from a causally valid and mathematically described model and hence reduces the reliance on lists or linguistic constructs.

The designer can therefore formulate or design an optimum system to begin with in an ideal form and could even optimize the design at this elementary stage. All possible ideas could be implemented, tested, analyzed, and simulated using the ICD.

12.3 Bond Graph Technology in Synthesis

A word graph in its conventional form cannot convey sufficient detailed information about a system. It simply set out to describe the essence of the system. Perhaps not unlike preliminary sketches drawn by architects. It is, however, the first step in a line of progression to a detailed design with its origins in an idea. The word graph could then be augmented to establish underlying causal relationships among constituent elements. Augmentation at this point means an introduction of the basic causal structure, thereby indicating input-output relations governing the interchanges of energy and flow of power in the system. Inclusion of causal relations in the structure of word graphs is not intended to give rise to formulation of mathematical relations but to encourage feedback during abstract and conceptual stages of synthesis. In such a sphere of conceptuality, adoption of conceptual causality within the skeleton of a conceptual model should not be considered as anything more than an idealistic approach to structure the thoughts. Having taken the disciplinary constraints away from the designer, the methodology must substitute some form of a safety net. The concept of causality as it was described through the definition of mathematical isomorphism, presents an ideal safety net for the system synthesizer to ensure inclusion of fundamental physical laws. The ideal and conceptual system model is therefore unable to contravene fundamental disciplinary laws.

The substitution of bond graph multiports for elements of word graph is the next stage in advancing toward a detailed final design. A simple substitution may, however, prove insufficient in the formulation of a valid bond graph model, since individual elements of a word graph can quite often represent rather complex systems. A reasonable multiport may thus greatly expand the initial model structure. Expansion within the sphere of conceptuality must be limited to the introduction of absolutely essential details ensuring that the bond graph will undergo a minimum reticulation process through multiport substitution. Inclusion of necessary multiports with their associated bonds will change the system description from simple word graph to a more detailed symbolic structure. For the development of the new system to be coherent, ideal junction structures that are fundamental to assertion of causality are introduced. The properties of bond graphs, particularly, the necessity for correct causal structure, quite often dictate alterations to perceived ideal structure. Such dictated changes are valuable in establishing the functionality and reliability at earliest stage of a product life cycle. Here, the possible existence of causal conflicts could direct attention toward unaccounted factors. Additional elements to cater for insufficiencies can contribute to further expansions. This process of presenting an idea through causal word graphs is iterative in the progression of an ICD. Fig. 6 is a diagrammatical presentation of such a recursive reticulation process.

Fig. 6 Recursive reticulation in causal synthesis.

12.4 Design Criterion

For the reticulation process to sustain an effective progress, the ICD must satisfy an objective beyond what is imposed by specific disciplinary objective functions. The functional connectedness which might have been arrived at through conventional design procedures may not hold any longer. The biomechatronic problem in its initial proposed format could have more than a single solution. As a result, some form of criterion that could be applicable to a great majority of engineering systems is needed to assess alternative models of solutions. Therefore, a criterion for the absolute minimum objective function should be adopted. An ICD could quite adeptly address the energy balance and the energetic efficiency in a design. The characteristics of any deviation from optimum energetic efficiency, on the other hand, is primarily dictated by system impedance. System impedance could act as a measure of optimality for a proposed design and any attempt toward maximizing the efficiency would be direct at system impedance. Furthermore, introduction of such concepts as system controller would in effect aim at optimization and manipulation of the total impedance inherent in the system which is a consequence of devised functional connectedness. Optimization of the system impedance is therefore the objective function from which a set of generalized constraints can be abstracted. Optimization of impedance could mean minimization of structures associated with energy dissipation and inertial optimization could be addressed through minimum connectedness. The connectedness optimization, on the other hand, is directly pointing at minimum number of elements and optimum configuration.

Following a minimalistic approach, the first design criterion could thus be stated as: the energy consumption of a proposed system for performing a given task must be optimized. Within the structure of such criterion, concepts like energy density in a system, the effectiveness of the power sources, or transforming modules may be investigated. In thermodynamic terms, entropy generation must be minimized or unnecessary irreversibilities must be eliminated. The attention could thus be directed at advanced modes of decision-making using switching mechanism to avoid classical energy consumption problems. The next stage is the identification of the modulating elements through which the performance of the system is manipulated, regulated, and controlled.

Conventionally, the controllers are considered only after the nature of functional connectivity has to a great degree been established. In a multidisciplinary approach to design, however, the controlling system is all part of the complete functional connectivity and is developed simultaneously. The recognition of modulatory constituents at the outset of design will contribute toward a minimalistic criterion function. Here the root characteristics of the controlling mechanism is readily provided by the bond graph model of the synthesized system. Engaging in controller design during the synthesis of biomechatronic systems induces a harmony with dissipation minimization approach. The preliminary criterion function can thus be based on flow of energy, materials, and signals. The constraints imposed on the ICD could therefore be stated as minimum energy consumption, minimum functional connectivity, and minimum restriction to energy flow.

The designer, however, must leave the sphere of conceptuality and advance toward physical realization. The results of the synthesis and the natural expansion of the initial model will lead to physically realizable systems as bond graph technology is inherently adept in catering for physical realization. Once disciplinary elements are substituted for ICD constituents and possible expansion of the model has taken place, other issues such as economics and industrial constraints could be addressed.

The steps suggested here for a General Design Methodology are outlined diagrammatically in Figs. 7 and 8.

Fig. 7 Fundamental set of constraints leading to optimum design of biomechatronic systems.

Fig. 8 Relationship between constraints and requirements.

13 Summary

Design of biomechatronic systems is a complex process and as such, it would achieve a greater degree of economic, technical, and aesthetic excellence when cloaked by logic and rationality. The influential and complimentary concepts of systematic design and systems approach to design reflect general appreciation that complex problems are best tackled in a series of defined steps. Such structuring is governed by the nature of design environment and directed at obtaining an optimum solution in the face of imposed limitations. The boundaries of a design problem are therefore dictated by the disciplines involved and the associated constraints. In other words, limitations are formed by two sets: (a) intradisciplinary constraints and, (b) specific problem constraints. The combined limitations of these two sets would adversely affect a biomechatronic designer and even refrain her/his creativity and intuition. This is particularly disadvantageous when a variety of alternative combinations of disciplines and system configurations are capable of satisfying the objective function. To encourage creativity and intuitiveness, in producing efficient, better, and novel designs, the core of the problem is abstracted using causal word graphs. The ensuing transformation to bond graphs provide a solid analytical platform for further manipulations including possible expansions, inclusion of nonlinearities, and extraction of variables and parameters. Result of synthesis is presented as an ICD which is uniquely suitable to be adopted as the criterion for further evaluations. The ICD derived using bond graph technology has an adaptive capacity in producing an energy domain-independent solution which is optimized in terms of functional connectivity and energetic management.

Further Reading

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