Posts Tagged Wearable Robot

[Abstract] Design and development of a lightweight ankle exoskeleton for human walking augmentation


  • A powered ankle exoskeleton with only 348 g of added distal mass.
  • The exoskeleton reduced the activity of the gastrocnemius muscle by 44%.%
  • The exoskeleton reduced the activity of the soleus muscle by 37%.%



Most of powered ankle exoskeletons add considerable distal mass to the user which limit their capacity in reducing the metabolic energy of walking. The objective of the work presented in this paper is to develop an ankle exoskeleton with a minimum added distal mass compared to existing autonomous powered ankle exoskeletons while it can provide at least 30 Nm of assistive plantarflexion torque. The proposed exoskeleton uses Bowden cables to transmit the mechanical force from the actuation unit attached to the waist to the carbon fiber struts fixed on the boot. As the struts are pulled, they create an assistive ankle plantarflexion torque. A 3d-printed brace was attached to the shin to adjust the direction of the cables. A design optimization study was performed to minimize the mass of the struts, thereby limiting the total added distal mass, attached to the shin and foot, to only 348 g. The main result obtained from walking tests was the reduction of the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles activity by a maximum of 37% and 44% respectively when walking with the exoskeleton compared to normal walking. This result shows the potential of the proposed exoskeleton to reduce the metabolic cost of walking and emphasizes the importance of minimizing the distal mass of ankle exoskeletons. Tests with more subjects will be carried in the future to confirm this result.

via Design and development of a lightweight ankle exoskeleton for human walking augmentation – ScienceDirect

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[NEWS] Wearable robots usher in next generation of mobility therapies|CORDIS|European Commission

Wearable robots that can anticipate and react to users’ movement in real time could dramatically improve mobility assistance and rehabilitation tools.

© Shutterstock

Wearable robots are programmable body-worn devices, or exoskeletons, that are designed to mechanically interact with the user. Their purpose is to assist or even substitute human motor function for people who have severe difficulty moving or walking.

The BIOMOT project, completed in September 2016, has helped to advance this emerging field by demonstrating that personalised computational models of the human body can effectively be used to control wearable exoskeletons. The project has identified ways of achieving improved flexibility and autonomous performance, which could assist in the use of wearable robots as mobility assistance and rehabilitation tools.

‘An increasing number of researchers in the field of neurorehabilitation are interested in the potential of these robotic technologies for clinical rehabilitation following neurological diseases,’ explains BIOMOT project coordinator Dr. Juan Moreno from the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC). ‘One reason is that these systems can be optimised to deliver diverse therapeutic interventions at specific points of recuperation or care.’

However, a number of factors have limited the widespread market adoption of wearable robots. Moreno and his team identified a need for wearable equipment to be more compact and lightweight, and better able anticipate and detect the intended movements of the wearer. In addition, robots needed to become more versatile and adaptable in order to aid people in a variety of different situations; walking on uneven ground, for example, or approaching an obstacle.

In order to address these challenges, the project developed robots with real-time adaptability and flexibility by increasing the symbiosis between the robot and the user through dynamic sensorimotor interactions. A hierarchical approach to these interactions was taken, allowing the project team to apply different layers for different purposes. This means in effect that an exoskeleton can be personalised to an individual user.

‘Thanks to this framework, the BIOMOT exoskeleton can rely on mechanical and bioelectric measurements to adapt to a changing user or task condition,’ says Moreno. ‘This leads to improved robotic interventions.’

Following theoretical and practical work, the project team then tested these prototype exoskeletons with volunteers. A key technical challenge was how to combine a robust and open architecture with a novel wearable robotic system that can gather signals from human activity. ‘Nonetheless, we succeeded in investigating for the first time the potential of automatically controlling human-robot interactions in order to enhance user compliance to a motor task,’ says Moreno. ‘Our research with healthy humans showed such positive and promising results that we are keen to continue validation with both stroke and spinal cord injury patients.’

Indeed, Moreno is confident that the success of the project will open up potential new research avenues. For example, the results will help scientists to develop computational models for rehabilitation therapies, and better understand human movement in more detail.

‘In the project we also defined novel techniques to evaluate and benchmark performances of wearable exoskeletons,’ says Moreno. ‘Further innovation projects are planned by consortium members to follow up on this research, and to exploit developments in the field of human motion capture, human-machine interaction and adaptive control.’

For further information, please see:
project website

via Wearable robots usher in next generation of mobility therapies | News | CORDIS | European Commission

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[WEB SITE] Quix Powered Exoskeleton Becomes Finalist of the Mobility Unlimited Challenge Exoskeleton Report

Quix Exoskeleton

The powered lower-body exoskeleton Quix by IHMC and MYOLYN is now one of five finalists of the Mobility Unlimited Challenge by the Toyota Mobility Foundation in partnership with the Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre.  Each finalist receives a $500,000 grant for further development, and a shot at the $1M grand prize.

The Quix hip-knee-ankle wearable robot is joined by the other four finalists:

  • The Evowalk – sensory/electrical stimulation sleeve
  • Moby – shared powered wheelchair
  • Phoenix Ai Ultralight Wheelchair – intelligent wheelchair
  • Qolo – wheeled platform with a sit-to-stand powered brace with tilt control

The five finalists were selected amongst teams from 28 countries by a group of eleven judges.

“Current personal mobility devices are often unable to fully meet the needs of users due to limitations affecting functionality and usability. Historically, the pace of innovation is slow, due to small and fragmented markets and difficulties in getting new technology funded by health-care systems and insurers. This can make the field unattractive to the very people who could help change the world. We hope that challenges like this can inspire innovation and are excited to see how the five finalists use this opportunity to develop their ideas further.” – Charlotte Macken of Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre

The main focus on the Quix wearable robot is on a superior control system that utilizes onboard sensors.  Potentially, the exoskeleton would be able to sense its environment to supplement its balancing capabilities.

The Quix exoskeleton is created by IHMC and MYOLYN, both of which competed at the 2016 Cybathlon.  MYOLYN is a leading manufacturer of FES (Functional Electric Stimulation) bicycles and exercise equipment.

IHMC Robotics Lab is no stranger to exoskeleton development.  The Robotics Lab has worked with NASA on the X1 Mina exoskeleton and took second place at the 2016 Cybathlon Exoskeleton Race (see IHMC’s practice run video).

“We’re delighted to have made it through as one of the five finalists of the Mobility Unlimited Challenge. In the business world, developing technologies for people with lower-limb paralysis has been extraordinarily hard. We’ve constantly struggled against people saying the market is too small and because of that people aren’t putting in the effort, research or investment this field deserves, meaning there hasn’t been enough advancement…” – Peter Neuhaus, IHMC

About the Challenge

The Mobility Unlimited Challenge focuses on individuals with complete lower limb paralysis.  The challenge operates under the premise that there isn’t an affordable or proliferated technology that presently restores full movement while research and development efforts are scattered.  The challenge aims to bring together creative individuals from around the world in order to accelerate innovation and promote collaboration to create solutions that increase personal independence. [more…]

References and suggested reading:

Toyota Mobility Foundation Unveils Five Visions for the Future of Mobility at CES, Press Release,

IHMC (Florida Institue for Human and Machine Cognition) Robotics Lab,

MYOLYN, Company Website,

Qolo (Quality of Life with Locomotion), James Dyson Award Entry, Aug 6, 2014, YouTube,


via Quix Powered Exoskeleton Becomes Finalist of the Mobility Unlimited Challenge Exoskeleton Report

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[Book Chapter] User Intention Driven Adaptive Gait Assistance Using a Wearable Exoskeleton – Springer


A user intention based rehabilitation strategy for a lower-limb wearable robot is proposed and evaluated. The control strategy, which involves monitoring the human-orthosis interaction torques, determines the gait initiation instant and modifies orthosis operation for gait assistance, when needed. Orthosis operation is classified as assistive or resistive in function of its evolution with respect to a normal gait pattern. The control algorithm relies on the adaptation of the joints’ stiffness in function of their interaction torques and their deviation from the desired trajectories. An average of recorded gaits obtained from healthy subjects is used as reference input. The objective of this work is to develop a control strategy that can trigger the gait initiation from the user’s intention and maintain the dynamic stability, using an efficient real-time stiffness adaptation for multiple joints, simultaneously maintaining their synchronization. The algorithm has been tested with five healthy subjects showing its efficient behavior in initiating the gait and maintaining the equilibrium while walking in presence of external forces. The work is performed as a preliminary study to assist patients suffering from incomplete Spinal cord injury and Stroke.

Source: User Intention Driven Adaptive Gait Assistance Using a Wearable Exoskeleton – Springer

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[WEB SITE] Wearable FES-robot hybrid eases stroke recovery

Cerebrovascular accidents (more commonly known as strokes) take place when poor blood flow in a certain area of the brain causes cell death. It is the third leading cause of death in the United States, with approximately 795,000 recorded cases each year, claiming the lives of more than 140.000 people each year in the U.S alone, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Common symptoms of stroke include hemiparesis (in more than 80% of stroke survivors) or a total inability to move or feel on one side of the body.After such an event, regular exercise is needed for the patient to recover motor function in the affected areas of the body.

Dubbed the “Rehab Sleeve”, the device was designed by Dr Hu Xiaoling at the Hong Kong based PolyU’s Interdisciplinary Division of Biomedical Engineering. The team was supported by the Institute of Textiles and Clothing, Industrial Centre and other organizations. It combines pressure and moisture management to allow for comfortable long-term use in patients with functional electric stimulation, a technique that uses electrical currents to activate nerve endings controlling extremities affected by paralysis. It interprets the user’s motions as electrical signals that can be used to control a computer, allowing  for a combination of training tasks with interactive applications and games.

With a modular design and equipped with a bracing system, the Rehab Sleeve is comfortable to wear and allows for a lot of flexibility in usage: the various modules can be used at once or separately to maximize training efficiency. The device’s effectiveness in training has been evaluated in over 30 patients for three to six months with preliminary results showing that compared to conventional training it can better accelerate the recovery of patients’ upper-limb functionality. Patients usually require 20 sessions of training using the Rehab Sleeve.

via Wearable FES-robot hybrid eases stroke recovery.

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[ARTICLE] Lower Limb Wearable Robots for Assistance and Rehabilitation: A State of the Art



Neurologic injuries, such as stroke, spinal cord injuries, and weaknesses of skeletal muscles with elderly people, may considerably limit the ability of this population to achieve the main daily living activities.

Recently, there has been an increasing interest in the development of wearable devices, the so-called exoskeletons, to assist elderly as well as patients with limb pathologies, for movement assistance and rehabilitation.

In this paper, we review and discuss the state of the art of the lower limb exoskeletons that are mainly used for physical movement assistance and rehabilitation. An overview of the commonly used actuation systems is presented. According to different case studies, a classification and comparison between different types of actuators is conducted, such as hydraulic actuators, electrical motors, series elastic actuators, and artificial pneumatic muscles.

Additionally, the mainly used control strategies in lower limb exoskeletons are classified and reviewed, based on three types of human–robot interfaces: the signals collected from the human body, the interaction forces between the exoskeleton and the wearer, and the signals collected from exoskeletons. Furthermore, the performances of several typical lower limb exoskeletons are discussed, and some assessment methods and performance criteria are reviewed. Finally, a discussion of the major advances that have been made, some research directions, and future challenges are presented.

via IEEE Xplore Abstract (Abstract) – Lower Limb Wearable Robots for Assistance and Rehabilitation: A State of the Art.

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