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A non-invasive system has been developed at the University of Maryland Space System Laboratory with the goal of providing a new capability for quantifying the motion of the human inside a space suit. Based on an array of six microprocessors and eighteen microelectromechanical (MEMS) inertial measurement units (IMUs), the Body Pose Measurement System (BPMS) allows the monitoring of the kinematics of the suit occupant in an unobtrusive, self-contained, lightweight and compact fashion, without requiring any external equipment such as those necessary with modern optical motion capture systems.

BPMS measures and stores the accelerations, angular rates and magnetic fields acting upon each IMU, which are mounted on the head, torso, and each segment of each limb. In order to convert the raw data into a more useful form, such as a set of body segment angles quantifying pose and motion, a series of geometrical models and a non-linear complimentary filter were implemented.

The first portion of this works focuses on assessing system performance, which was measured by comparing the BPMS filtered data against rigid body angles measured through an external VICON optical motion capture system. This type of system is the industry standard, and is used here for independent measurement of body pose angles. By comparing the two sets of data, performance metrics such as BPMS system operational conditions, accuracy, and drift were evaluated and correlated against VICON data.

After the system and models were verified and their capabilities and limitations assessed, a series of pressure suit evaluations were conducted. Three different pressure suits were used to identify the relationship between usable range of motion and internal suit pressure. In addition to addressing range of motion, a series of exploration tasks were also performed, recorded, and analysed in order to identify different motion patterns and trajectories as suit pressure is increased and overall suit mobility is reduced. The focus of these evaluations was to quantify the reduction in mobility when operating in any of the evaluated pressure suits. This data should be of value in defining new low cost alternatives for pressure suit performance verification and evaluation.

This work demonstrates that the BPMS technology is a viable alternative or companion to optical motion capture; while BPMS is the first motion capture system that has been designed specifically to measure the kinematics of a human in a pressure suit, its capabilities are not constrained to just being a measurement tool. The last section of the manuscript is devoted to future possible uses for the system, with a specific focus on pressure suit applications such in the use of BPMS as a master control interface for robot teleoperation, as well as an input interface for future robotically augmented pressure suits.