New Mobility for the Disabled
- EMC Design, Troubleshooting and Training for Complex Robotic Systems
A breakthrough personal mobility product,
many years in the making, has recently been introduced for the disabled
community the Independence IBOT 3000 Mobility
System from Independence Technology a division of Johnson & Johnson®.
Lee Hill and Randal Vaughn of SILENT played a very essential role
in its development.
The IBOT is a dynamically stabilized mobility system that can climb
or descend stairs, negotiate curbs as high as 4 inches, travel smoothly
on uneven terrain and comfortably lift the occupant into a vertical
position for a face-to-face conversation in a social gathering.
The IBOT allows far more personal mobility than conventional wheelchairs
and constitutes a new category in the medical products industry.
The technology behind IBOT is characterized by complex systems integration.
These systems which are comprised of gyroscopes, on-board sensors,
redundant computer systems and advanced robotics, must meet stringent
FDA requirements for the utmost in operational safety. The IBOT's
three computers work simultaneously to guarantee continuous availability
in the event of a processor or sensor failure.
DEKA Research and Development spearheaded the development program.
Mike Ambrogi, General Manager and Tom Soldau, Lead Electrical Engineer,
decided it would be smart business to bring in an EMI expert to
work with the design team. They commissioned Lee Hill and Randal
Vaughn of SILENT.
As EMC and RF design engineers, Lee and Randal served multiple roles.
Lee primarily assisted with upfront design while Randal was also
called upon to troubleshoot an elusive noise problem that occurred
during preliminary EMI compliance testing.
Randal worked quickly and efficiently to identify the problem. In
less than 24 hours, through a deductive process that methodically
checks high probability trouble spots, Randal found several unshielded
cables that were responsible for radiating emissions beyond acceptable
levels. To corroborate his findings Randal used additional comparative
testing to confirm his initial conclusions.
SILENT¹S staff developed a PCB-level solution that was cost effective
and elegant. "Lee and Randal were very flexible. They worked
collaboratively with the team to make sure the final solution fit
within the constraints of our initial design", said Tom Soldau.
"The bottom line system EMC testing was completed successfully
in two cycles instead of the usual five or six times it took on
previous engineering units and manufacturing proceeded on time."
DEKA was delighted and, as a result, Lee was invited to return to
deliver a series of educational and training workshops to the entire
electrical hardware design team. The workshops included many electrical
demonstrations of EMI issues that had been resolved during the development
of IBOT, along with substantial question and answers periods. The
team learned the key physics of EMC and RF design to help them reach
their goals on future programs.
The IBOT is a breakthrough medical device that will help the disabled
community experience new freedom and social activities. The machine
is beginning its rollout at clinics in the US and Europe. SILENT
was a critical factor in its success.
In the words of Mike and Tom, "Lee, Randal and SILENT added immense
value to the project and we intend to call upon their talents again
for future projects."