Thanks to the technological advancements, assistive lower limb exoskeletons are moving from laboratory settings to daily life scenarios. This dissertation makes a contribution toward the development of assistive/power augmentation knee exoskeletons with an improved wearability, ergonomics and intuitive use. In particular, the design and the control of a novel knee exoskeleton system, the iT-Knee Bipedal System, is presented. It is composed by: a novel mechanism to transmit the assistance generated by the exoskeleton to the knee joint in a more ergonomic manner; a novel method that requires limited information to estimate online the torques experienced by the ankles, knees and hips of a person wearing the exoskeleton; a novel sensor system for shoes able to track the feet orientation and monitor their full contact wrench with the ground. In particular, the iT-Knee exoskeleton, the main component of the aforementioned system, is introduced. It is a novel six degree of freedom knee exoskeleton module with under-actuated kinematics, able to assist the flexion/extension motion of the knee while all the other joint’s movements are accommodated. Thanks to its mechanism, the system: solves the problem of the alignment between the joint of the user and the exoskeleton; it automatically adjusts to different users’ size; reduces the undesired forces and torques exchanged between the attachment points of its structure and the user’s skin. From a control point of view, a novel approach to address difficulties arising in real life scenarios (i.e. noncyclic locomotion activity, unexpected terrain or unpredicted interactions with the surroundings) is presented. It is based on a method that estimates online the torques experienced by a person at his ankles, knees and hips with the major advantage that does not rely on any information of the user’s upper body (i.e. pose, weight and center of mass location) or on any interaction of the user’s upper body with the environment (i.e. payload handling or pushing and pulling task). This is achieved v by monitoring the full contact wrench of the subject with the ground and applying an inverse dynamic approach to the lower body segments. To track the full contact wrench between the subject’s feet and the ground, a novel add on system for shoes has been developed. The iT-Shoe is adjustable to different user’s size and accommodates the plantar flexion of the foot. It tracks the interactions and the orientation of the foot thanks to two 6axis Force/Torque sensors, developed in-house, with dedicated embedded MEMS IMUs placed at the toe and heel area. Different tasks and ground conditions were tested to validate and highlight the potentiality of the proposed knee exoskeleton system. The experimental results obtained and the feedback collected confirm the validity of the research conducted toward the design of more ergonomic and intuitive to use exoskeletons.
|Titolo della tesi:||Design and Control of a Knee Exoskeleton for Assistance and Power Augmentation|
|Data di discussione:||6-feb-2018|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Tesi di dottorato|