Written in honor of Henk Stassen, one of the most prolific contributors to this research and literature, the book provides an up-to-date summary on human control of mechanical things. This includes people controlling the mechanical movements of their own limbs, extensions of their limbs such as prostheses (limb replacements), orthoses (limb braces), hand tools, or telemanipulators. It also consists of people controlling the mechanical movements of vehicles that they ride in such as aircraft, automobiles, and trains. Finally, it includes movements of discrete products through manufacturing plants, or chemicals and other fluids through process plants such as refineries or nuclear power stations.
Within academe or industry, these various types of human control are usually found in very different research and engineering communities. The first is generally regarded as a subfield of biomechanics and more generally of biomedical engineering -- the hospital or medical clinic. Industry has mostly ignored the challenges of prosthetics and orthotics because there is not so much money to be made; payers are typically third party insurers of the government itself. In contrast, the problems of controlling vehicles (particularly aircraft and military vehicles) and industrial plants is what has driven the field of control -- both the science and technology. In the field of robotics, where biomechanics is obviously a model, industry has experienced the effects of expecting too much too soon, and in some cases over-investing and later being forced to withdraw in disappointment.