March 18, 2015

Southeast University, China, Researchers Develop Hip Exoskeleton

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A tester performs free walking experiments with the exoskeleton working as a measurement device. Photograph courtesy of the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems.

Researchers at Southeast University, Nanjing, China, have developed a wearable, powered hip exoskeleton (PH-EXOS) that can provide walking assistance to people with mobility difficulties. The Bowden cable-actuated exoskeleton has an anthropomorphic structure with six degrees of freedom to match the human hip anatomy and enable natural interaction with the user, and uses a real-time control system to provide passive and active control. The PH-EXOS provides assistive movement through external control of the hip joint for passive control, and uses pressure information from the userís thigh muscles and an adaptive controller to perform walking assistance tasks in the active control mode.

The researchers conducted treadmill walking experiments on a healthy subject to verify the effectiveness of the proposed device and control approaches in reducing walking effort. According to the study, the results suggest that the PH-EXOS system can follow predefined trajectories in the passive control mode, and reduce the userís muscular power consumption in the active control mode. The authors note that the next step in the development is to integrate the control system and power generation unit to achieve a completely independent device for practical application.

The open-access study was published March 10 in the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems.

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