Passive leg exoskeletons are currently being investigated for offsetting the weight of tools and other loads from workers performing maintenance and assembly tasks. By providing power-assist to the knee joints with pneumatic artificial muscles (PAMs), a wider range of stances could be used by maintenance workers without drawing significant power. A simplified kinematic model of the exoskeleton is developed, and the array of potential user stance configurations is then bounded. A static analysis is performed to define the torque required for actuation of the knee joint to support the tool loads carried by the exoskeleton. Finally, an exemplary transmission model is used to verify that it is feasible for a PAM to provide the range of motion and forces required for knee joint actuation. Upon demonstration of the viability of PAM actuation, development of an exoskeleton leg prototype is underway to provide validation of the proposed scheme. The knee actuation system will be retrofit to the FORTIS exoskeleton, and tests on its effectiveness will be conducted.

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