Prof.dr. Frans C.T. van der Helm

Prof. dr. Frans C. T. van der Helm is professor in Biomechatronics and Bio-robotics, Delft University of Technology, and also adjunct-professor at the University of Twente, University Leiden, Northwestern University (Chicago) and Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland). He has a MSc in Human Movement Sciences (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 1985), and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering (Delft University of Technology, 1991).

Frans van der Helm was member of the board of the International Society of Biomechanics (2005-2009), and participated in the board of the Technical Group of Computer Simulation (TGCS) and the International Shoulder Group (ISG). He is one of programme leaders in the Medical Delta, the collaboration between Leiden Unversity Medical Center (LUMC), Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam and TU Delft.

Frans van der Helm was Principal Investigator in the TREND research consortium (2004-2011, ), investigating Complex Regional Pain Syndrome as a neurological disorder. Currently, he is the program leader of the NeuroSIPE (System Identification and Parameter Estimation in Neurophysiological systems, ) program and H-Haptics (Human centered Haptics, ) program, sponsored by the Dutch National Science Foundation. In 2011 he received an ERC advanced grant for a research project ‘4D EEG’, improving temporal and spatial resolution of EEG source localization.

In 2012 Frans van der Helm received the Simon Stevin Meester award ( ). The Simon Stevin Meester award is the most important award for technical/scientific research in the Netherlands, and is awarded to researchers who combine excellent fundamental scientific work with relevant societal issues and applications.

In 2012 Frans van der Helm received the ‘Leermeesterprijs’ as the most inspiring teacher and research supervisor of Delft University of Technology.

He has published over 200 papers in international journals on topics as biomechanics of the upper and lower extremity, neuromuscular control, eye biomechanics, pelvic floor biomechanics, human motion control, posture stability, haptic telemanipulation, man-machine interaction, automotive control, airplane, control, etc.

  • Nulaanstelling bij university Leiden
  • Nulaanstelling bij university Twente
  • Adjunct professor Case Western Reserve University Cleveland
  • Adjunct professor Northwestern University Chicago
  1. Van der Helm F, et al. (2002). Identification of intrinsic and reflexive components of human arm dynamics during postural control. J. Neuroscience Methods 119, 1-14. 
  2. Wu G, van der Helm FCT, et al. (2005). ISB recommendation on definitions of joint coordinate systems of various joints for the reporting of human joint motion - Part II: shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. J Biomech. 38 (5): 981-992.
  3. Wisse M, Schwab A, van der Linde R, van der Helm FCT (2005). How to keep from falling forward: Elementary swing leg action for passive dynamic walkers. IEEE Trans. on Robotics 21(3), 393-401. 
  4. Van der Kooij H, Van Asseldonk E, van der Helm FCT (2005). Comparison of different methods to identify and quantify balance control. J. Neuroscience Methods 145, 175-203.
  5. Wisse M, Schwab AL, van der Helm FCT (2004)Passive dynamic walking model with upper body. Robotica 22: 681-688. 
  6. Schutte S, Van den Bedem S, Van Keulen F, van der Helm FCT, Simonsz HJ. (2006) A finite element analysis model of orbital biomechanics. Vision Research 46 (11): 1724-1731. 
  7. Stienen A, Schouten AC, Schuurmans J, van der Helm FCT (2007). Analysis of reflex modulation with a biologically realistic neural network.  Journal of computational neuroscience 23 (3): 333-348. 
  8. Veeger HEJ, van der Helm FCT (2007). Shoulder function: The perfect compromise between mobility and stability. Journal of Biomechanics 40 (10): 2119-2129. 
  9. Schouten, A; De Vlugt, E; Van Hilten, J, van der Helm FCT (2008). Quantifying proprioceptive reflexes during position control of the human arm. IEEE Trans. on Biomed. Engin. 55(1): 311-321. 
  10. Mugge W, Schuurmans J, Schouten A, van der Helm F (2009). Sensory Weighting of Force and Position Feedback in Human Motor Control Tasks. Journal of Neuroscience 29(17), 5476-5482.  

Vision: In the future new (medical) devices with increased complexity will be designed to be controlled by humans. In unstructured environments it will be highly difficult or even impossible to have automated controllers to decide what the task of the device (robot) is and how to execute the task. Our vision is to keep the human in control to deal with unpredictable circumstances. To enable humans to optimally perform complex tasks, the designs should be smart and provided with interfaces fit to human capabilities and limitations. 

Mission: To conduct fundamental research in the field of human machine interaction with the aim to design instruments which are controlled by humans. We want to optimize the control opportunities of the human by focusing on the feedback provided and on the properties of the control input devices.

Objectives:  We have an integrated approach in which a fundamental understanding of the neuromuscular control of humans is essential, as well as knowledge on control engineering, mechanics and instrument design. Applications are in the medical field, like computer-assisted surgical planning (orthopedic implants, tendon transfers, strabismus surgery), neurology and rehabilitation medicine (stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Torticollis, low back pain), prosthetics and orthotics, but also in industrial applications (tele-manipulation, airplane and automotive control). A special application is the design and realization of humanoid robots mimicking human behavior, such as bi-pedal walking robots, robot arms and hands. We exploit similarities in the approach of neuromuscular control and the design of robots.

Research is executed in a multidisciplinary environment, together with specialists in the medical field or other technical fields, with a strong focus on societal relevance. We aim at a contribution to a better and more affordable health care system, with a focus on neuromuscular disorders of patients and elderly.

We aim to involve companies in our research projects, in order to enable a valorization of research outcomes. We emphasize the building of strong research teams, which aim at performing research at the highest international level. We strive to publish our scientific papers in the highest ranked journals in the field.

·        Research area and programs

Major application areas where humans are in the loop are in the field of biomedical engineering (assistive devices for patients such as prostheses and endoprostheses, diagnostic robots for patients with neurological and muscular disorders), haptic feedback interfaces and humanoid robots.

In the Biomechatronics and Biorobotics, research lines:

Design of devices:

  • Delft Biorobotics Lab (DBL), M. Wisse., H. van der Kooij (0.2 fte)
  • Delft Haptics Lab (DHL), D. Abbink (0.8 fte), Andre Schiele (0.2 fte)
  • Human control in automotive (AUTO), R. Happee.
  • Delft Institute of Prosthetics and Orthotics (DIPO), D. Plettenburg.
  • Interactive Mechanisms Research (IMR), J. Herder (0.8 fte)

 Human performance research:

  • Neuromuscular Control Lab (NMC), A.C. Schouten, E. de Vlugt, R. Happee.
  • Delft Shoulder Group (DSG), prof.dr. F.C.T. van der Helm, prof.dr. H.E.J. Veeger (0.2 fte)
  • Eye Research Lab (ERL), prof.dr. F.C.T. van der Helm
  • Tissue Biomechanics and Implants ( A. Zadpoor, prof.dr. H. Weinans (0.2 fte))

Frans van der Helm

Delft University of Technology Faculty of Mechanical Engineering BioMechanical Engineering

Subjects, publications and ancillary activities
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