We co-organize a Special Issue on Wearable Robotics in IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine where we call for papers on working systems that are evaluated with human subjects in order to determine the technology’s practical potential and impact on people with disabilities, workers, sportsmen, and others.
We organized two special sessions at Werob 2018:
Exoskeleton Research in Europe where we brought together researchers from ongoing and recently finished European projects and initiatives on exoskeletons and other wearable orthotic devices. We discussed on how to increase and intensify collaboration and information exchange between the projects and how to make sure that new projects benefit from the results of previous ones.
Wearable Robotic Solutions for Factories of the Future where we gathered specialists in the field of Industrial exoskeletons and discussed the state of the art, challenges and novel results in the very promising rising field for wearable robots.
Katja Mombaur from UHEI gave a keynote lecture at IROS 2018 in Madrid titled “Realistic models of human motions for better wearable robots” and a plenary lecture at ICNR 2018 in Pisa titled “Optimization-based analysis and design of exoskeletons, prostheses and assistive devices”. In both she extensively discussed modeling and optimization work on spinal exoskeletons performed in SPEXOR project.
Researchers at UHEI performed various optimization studies on the design of active spinal exoskeletons for the support of lifting motions which serve as an input for the upcoming work in the project.
- For an exoskeleton model with rigid segments and motors at the hip and lumbar joints, we determined motions and corresponding human and exoskeleton torques that correspond to the smallest effort for the human, also respecting limits on the actuators.
- For an exoskeleton model with rigid segments and motors with parallel springs at the hip and lumbar joints, we reconstructed recorded individual lifting motions of different subjects without exoskeletons. Various objective functions were evaluated that lead to different distributions of the dynamic efforts between the muscular torques of the human and the passive and active torques of the exoskeleton. Contact forces between the human and exoskeleton were limited to ergonomically reasonable values.
- We also considered an exoskeleton model with a flexible beam element in the back and springs in the hip joint, corresponding to the current passive SPEXOR prototype. In addition to these passive elements, parallel actuators in the hip joints have been considered. The results show potential reductions in the human torques by the introduction of the active components.
We had a SPEXOR booth at the largest robotics conference IROS2018 where we successfully demonstrated the passive version of our prototype to the numerous participants of the conference.