IROS 2020 Workshop on Wearable SuperLimbs

Wearable SuperLimbs:

Design, Communication, and Control

An IROS 2020 Workshop

Thursday, October 29, 2020 – Full Day

Supernumerary Robotic Limbs (or SuperLimbs for short) are wearable robots that assist and augment the human physical abilities as well as compensate for lost abilities with extra arms and legs attached to the human. SuperLimbs differ from other types of wearable robotics, such as powered exoskeletons and prosthetics. Exoskeletons are attached along the human limbs to augment the joint strength. Therefore, they neither change the number of limbs nor change the anatomical structure of the limbs. Prosthetic devices, too, do not add any new limb, but replace the lost limb by a mechanical limb and compensate for the lost function. SuperLimbs are supernumerary; they increase the number of limbs to create new functionality and strength.

This difference has created a new frontier of robotics research. How can a human communicate with and control extra limbs together with his/her own natural limbs? How can a human exploit the extra limbs to perform otherwise difficult and/or laborious tasks? Does the human brain support extra limbs attached to the body? SuperLimbs have attracted researchers from diverse disciplinary fields, ranging from brain and cognitive science, neuroscience, and human factors to robot design, human-computer interface, rehabilitation and biomechanics. Recently novel technologies, including soft robotics, lightweight structures using additive manufacturing, and flexible wearable sensors, have been applied to SuperLimbs, opening up a new direction of robotics. Numerous groups worldwide are now developing various types of wearable SuperLimbs for a variety of applications. These  range from workers assistance in aerospace, construction, and infrastructure industries to rehabilitation, elderly support, entertainment, and housekeeping assistance. At this IROS workshop we will display and demonstrate the state-of-the-art of SuperLimbs, and exchange ideas among researchers and practitioners from diverse disciplinary fields.

The Workshop will start with a keynote talk by the organizer, introducing the key design concept, new functionalities, and potential applications and impact of SuperLimbs. Two talks will focus on communications with SuperLimbs from the human-computer interface perspective. Two talks will be on soft robotics and new actuator applications to SuperLimbs. Two talks will be on biomechanics of human-SuperLimb systems, and their rehabilitation applications. Two talks will be on a broad spectrum of industrial applications. SuperLimbs are presenting a rich variety of challenging issues in both science and engineering, and are opening up new opportunities and alternative solutions to critical areas of robotics applications. We will discuss these challenges and opportunities further in a panel discussion and general discussion, both of which include industrial participants and practitioners.


We plan to display and demonstrate real SuperLimbs at the workshop in addition to oral presentations by leading researchers of SuperLimbs. Furthermore, we plan to have a panel discussion by inviting scientists, researchers, practitioners, and entrepreneurs from diverse fields as panelists. Participants will have plenty of opportunities to interact with each other.Harry Asada

Harry Asada, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Wenlong Zhang, Arizona State University

Masahiko Inami, University of Tokyo

Topics of interest

  • Design concepts of SuperLimbs / Ergonomics, wearability, machine design
  • Soft robotics applied to SuperLimbs / Soft structure, soft actuators, robot design
  • Human-SuperLimbs communication / Gesture communication, wearable sensors
  • Natural, implicit communication and control / Haptics, neuromotor control synergy,   biomechanics
  • Cognitive aspects of SRL / Cognitive load and brain support
  • Human-SuperLimbs gait synchronization and coordination / Dynamic control, stability analysis
  •  Industrial applications of SuperLimbs / Aerospace and automobile manufacturing, construction industries, infrastructure field maintenance
  • Biomedical and home applications of SuperLimbs / Rehabilitation, elderly care, entertainment


Invited Speakers

  • H. Harry Asada, MIT, Confirmed
  • Wenlong Zhang, Arizona State University, Confirmed
  • Masahiko Inami, University of Tokyo, Confirmed
  • Daniel Gonzalez, West Point, Confirmed
  • Alexandre Girard, University of Sherbrooke, Confirmed
  • Domenico Prattichizzo, University of Siena, Confirmed

Live demonstrations of Wearable SuperLimbs developed by the speaker’s groups will be given. Presentors will wear SuperLimbs and interactively discuss their technologies, challenges, and applications with the workshop participants. Two demo-sessions, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, are scheduled during coffee break time.