2022 journal article
Bio-inspired design of a self-aligning, lightweight, and highly-compliant cable-driven knee exoskeleton
FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE, 16.
Powered knee exoskeletons have shown potential for mobility restoration and power augmentation. However, the benefits of exoskeletons are partially offset by some design challenges that still limit their positive effects on people. Among them, joint misalignment is a critical aspect mostly because the human knee joint movement is not a fixed-axis rotation. In addition, remarkable mass and stiffness are also limitations. Aiming to minimize joint misalignment, this paper proposes a bio-inspired knee exoskeleton with a joint design that mimics the human knee joint. Moreover, to accomplish a lightweight and high compliance design, a high stiffness cable-tension amplification mechanism is leveraged. Simulation results indicate our design can reduce 49.3 and 71.9% maximum total misalignment for walking and deep squatting activities, respectively. Experiments indicate that the exoskeleton has high compliance (0.4 and 0.1 Nm backdrive torque under unpowered and zero-torque modes, respectively), high control bandwidth (44 Hz), and high control accuracy (1.1 Nm root mean square tracking error, corresponding to 7.3% of the peak torque). This work demonstrates performance improvement compared with state-of-the-art exoskeletons.