Active exoskeletons have capacity to provide biologically equivalent levels of joint mechanical power, but high mass of actuation units may lead to uncoordinated walking and extra metabolic consumption. Active exoskeletons normally supply assistance directly during push-off and have a power burst during push-off. Thus, the requirements on power of motors are high, which is the main reason for the high mass. However, in a muscle-tendon system, the strategy of injecting energy slowly and releasing quickly is utilized to obtain a higher peak power than that of muscle alone. Application of this strategy of peak power amplification in exoskeleton actuation might lead to reductions of input power and device mass. This paper presents an ankle exoskeleton which can accumulate the energy injected by a motor during the swing phase and mostly the stance phase and then release it quickly during push-off. An energy storage and release system was developed using a four-bar linkage clutch. In addition, evaluation experiments on the exoskeleton were carried out. Results show that the exoskeleton could provide a high power assistance with a low power motor and reduced the requirement on motor power by 4.73 times. Besides, when walking with the exoskeleton, the ankle peak power was reduced by 25.8% compared to the normal condition. The strategy which imitates the working pattern of the muscle-tendon system leads to a lightweight and effective exoskeleton actuation, and it also supplies ideas for the designs of lightweight actuators that work discontinuously in other conditions.
An Ankle Exoskeleton Using a Lightweight Motor to Create High Power Assistance for Push-Off
Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the J ournal of M echanisms and R obotics. Manuscript received October 12, 2017; final manuscript received March 29, 2019; published online May 17, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Xilun Ding.
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Liu, J., Xiong, C., and Fu, C. (May 17, 2019). "An Ankle Exoskeleton Using a Lightweight Motor to Create High Power Assistance for Push-Off." ASME. J. Mechanisms Robotics. August 2019; 11(4): 041001. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4043456
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