Design and validation of a modular one-to-many actuator for a soft wearable exosuit
Date of Issue2019
Interdisciplinary Graduate School (IGS)
Robotics Research Centre
The size, weight, and power consumption of soft wearable robots rapidly scale with their number of active degrees of freedom. While various underactuation strategies have been proposed, most of them impose hard constrains on the kinetics and kinematics of the device. Here we propose a paradigm to independently control multiple degrees of freedom using a set of modular components, all tapping power from a single motor. Each module consists of three electromagnetic clutches, controlled to convert a constant unidirectional motion in an arbitrary output trajectory. We detail the design and functioning principle of each module and propose an approach to control the velocity and position of its output. The device is characterized in free space and under loading conditions. Finally, we test the performance of the proposed actuation scheme to drive a soft exosuit for the elbow joint, comparing it with the performance obtained using a traditional DC motor and an unpowered-exosuit condition. The exosuit powered by our novel scheme reduces the biological torque required to move by an average of 46.2%, compared to the unpowered condition, but negatively affects movement smoothness. When compared to a DC motor, using the our paradigm slightly deteriorates performance. Despite the technical limitations of the current design, the method proposed in this paper is a promising way to design more portable wearable robots.
Frontiers in Neurorobotics
© 2019 Xiloyannis, Annese, Canesi, Kodiyan, Bicchi, Micera, Ajoudani and Masia. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.