Active robot-assisted feeding with a general-purpose mobile manipulator: Design, evaluation, and lessons learned

Daehyung Park, Yuuna Hoshi, Harshal P. Mahajan, Ho Keun Kim, Zackory Erickson, Wendy A. Rogers, Charles C. Kemp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eating is an essential activity of daily living (ADL) for staying healthy and living at home independently. Although numerous assistive devices have been introduced, many people with disabilities are still restricted from independent eating due to the devices’ physical or perceptual limitations. In this work, we present a new meal-assistance system and evaluations of this system with people with motor impairments. We also discuss learned lessons and design insights based on the evaluations. The meal-assistance system uses a general-purpose mobile manipulator, a Willow Garage PR2, which has the potential to serve as a versatile form of assistive technology. Our active feeding framework enables the robot to autonomously deliver food to the user's mouth, reducing the need for head movement by the user. The user interface, visually-guided behaviors, and safety tools allow people with severe motor impairments to successfully use the system. We evaluated our system with a total of 10 able-bodied participants and 9 participants with motor impairments. Both groups of participants successfully ate various foods using the system and reported high rates of success for the system's autonomous behaviors. In general, participants who operated the system reported that it was comfortable, safe, and easy-to-use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103344
JournalRobotics and Autonomous Systems
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Assistive feeding
  • Assistive robots
  • Manipulation
  • Meal assistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • General Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications


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