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An anthropomorphic underactuated prosthetic hand, endowed with position and force sensors and controlled by means of myoelectric commands, is used to perform experiments of hierarchical shared control. Three different hierarchical control strategies combined with a vibrotactile feedback system have been developed and tested by able-bodied subjects through grasping tasks used in activities of daily living (ADLs). The first goal is to find a good tradeoff between good grasping capabilities and low attention required by the user to complete grasping tasks, without addressing advanced algorithm for electromyographic processing. The second goal is to understand whether a vibrotactile feedback system is subjectively or objectively useful and how it changes users' performance. Experiments showed that users were able to successfully operate the device in the three control strategies, and that the grasp success increased with more interactive control. Practice has proven that when too much effort is required, subjects do not do their best, preferring, instead, a less-interactive control strategy. Moreover, the experiments showed that when grasping tasks are performed under visual control, the enhanced proprioception offered by a vibrotactile system is practically not exploited. Nevertheless, in subjective opinion, feedback seems to be quite important.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2008