Extending the spinal orthotic module with a passive self-aligning hip module

A misalignment compensation mechanism for the hip was developed to increase the comfort of the exoskeleton and to hinder movements as little as possible. A purely passive torque source at hip level generates the support needed to unload the lower back.

Passive spinal orthosis with viscoelastic element

Continuus carbon fiber beams which generate support and allow for a large range of motion are used as a back interface. Combined with the torque source at the hip, they generate the torque which reduces the strain on the lower back.

Biomechanical requirements for active version of spinal exoskeleton

We assessed full body kinematics and spine load components in natural lifting, to find kinematic and support pattern requirements for the SPEXOR actuated exoskeleton. Furthermore, using a benchmark actuated exoskeleton, we investigated how specific actuation control modes interact with subject behavior, and how this affects spine loading.

Biomechanical requirements for passive spinal exoskeleton are defined

We assessed to what extent a benchmark exoskeleton reduces spine loading and changes body kinematics during static trunk bending and during lifting. Additionally, we investigated how it affects perceived comfort, effort, performance, and metabolic energy consumption during functional activities such as walking and stair climbing. Based on these data, biomechanical requirements for the spexor passive exoskeleton were refined.

Monitoring system runs with full body model

The SPEXOR monitoring system is now linked with the full-body dynamical model providing insight into the musculoskeletal stress parameters. Further optimization for real-time processing and feedback are being addressed.

Controller for passive spinal exoskeleton

The controller for engagement and disengagement of the hip spring is developed. It is based on the probabilistic model of the human motion that classifies whether the user requires the support of the exoskeleton or the exoskeleton should remain disengaged to allow free motion.

Evaluation of the musculoskeletal stress monitoring system

We evaluated our optimized stress monitoring system, consisting of pressure insoles and inertial sensors, by comparing its performance to a laboratory grade system in a mock-up of realistic working conditions. Sensor outcomes and resultant low back load measures were compared between systems. The system was found to meet standards in accordance with the previously defined requirements.

Workshop at Humanoids 2017

We organized a workshop titled Exoskeleton design through optimization and adaptive control at the IEEE RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (HUMANOIDS 2017) that were held in Birmingham, UK during November 15-17, 2017.

The aim of the workshop was to bridge the gap between optimality principles and adaptive control to create a new generation of exoskeletons that would efficiently and unobtrusively operate on the human body. The main theme was how to leverage exoskeleton research with novel adaptive control concepts and optimization methods in order to advance it into a key technology.

 

Design optimization of passive spinal exoskeleton

In recent work UHEI led efforts towards the modeling of a passive spinal exoskeleton, and simulating the interaction between the human user and the exoskeleton (Millard et al. 2017, Manns et al. 2017, Harant et al. 2017). These results build upon earlier contributions of a dynamic whole body human model which is used as a basis for the exoskeleton design. We use a combined model of a human and a parametrized exoskeleton and setup optimal control problems to identify exoskeleton spring characteristics or motor torques for lifting motions. The motions simulated are either fitted to recorded data (collaboration with S2P and VUA), or generated as the solution of a minimization function. We also compute the forces and torques transmitted between the human and the exoskeleton. These are important first measures that will help support the exoskeleton and human-exoskeleton-interface design process.

 

Prototype of the musculoskeletal stress monitoring system is ready

Ready for use, OBG accomplished the first functional prototype of the musculoskeletal stress monitoring system. Looking forward for research, implementation and validation of the SPEXOR biomechanical models with the prototype.