BA Healthcare – 2 months Internship

My first professional engineering experience happened at BA Healthcare, a company developing mobile robot solutions in healthcare. With several innovative projects, this French (Britain) company is at the peak of French robotics in the healthcare sector. My internship there consisted in designing a suspension system to help a patient with a walking rehabilitation robot.

Company website: bahealthcare.eu

Responsibilities

  • Mechanical engineering to design a mechanical suspension system of a patient. The system has to apply a vertical force in the most constant way possible along the patient’s pelvis’ moving range during an abnormal walk cycle (greatest displacement).
  • Mechanical behavior and resistance computations depending on used parts and materials.
  • Healthcare standards integration (safety, materials…).
  • Team work: brainstorming, design meetings, integration to the rest of the robot…
  • Secondary mission: maintenance of another robot on the operating ground, at Rennes’ university hospital (disassembly on spot, debugging, connections revision, etc…).
  • Secondary mission: mutual help with two other interns on different projects (non related to healthcare).

July 2016 – August 2016 – France (Rennes)

Approach

In order to design a suspension system without electronics which is able to answer the specifications, I studied different systems that I compared to several criteria later on. The confidential aspect of the specifications limits the information I can deliver here. However, I will detail my approach.

The first step was the design. Having no professional engineering experience yet, I approached this first step from the theoretical angle. Starting from principle diagrams, I studied the mechanical behaviors according to Newton’s theory. I then computed the Taylor expansion of the produced equations to be able to draw the approximate curve of the applied force on the patient, according to their pelvis’ position. I could then evaluate the quality of each system’s response to the main requested feature.

Example of one of the systems (non selected) and corresponding computations

Once the theoretical systems are studied and prioritized, the work consisted in producing different versions with real parts. Here are some previews of one of the non selected systems :

It’s at this second step of design that I had to work with the team to integrate the systems to the rest of the robot.

Conclusion

This first engineering experience in the professional world let me confront my theoretical knowledge to the ground reality. The required pragmatism to produce a qualitative engineering work is acquired both through the understanding of theoretical mechanical laws and through real experience. It’s only by merging their knowledge and experiences that the engineer can be efficient in their design and optimize their resources.

Obviously, my work during two months didn’t reach the same quality as other engineers of the company, but I was complimented for its rigor and it has been used later as a basis for further developments. I went back to BA Systems, the industrial branch of the same group, for my end of studies internship.