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Design of a Purely Mechanical Sensor-Controller Integrated System for Walking Assistance on an Ankle-Foot Exoskeleton

1
Robotics Research Center, School of Mechanical, Electronic and Control Engineering, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, China
2
Key Laboratory of Vehicle Advanced Manufacturing, Measuring and Control Technology, Ministry of Education, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2019, 19(14), 3196; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19143196
Received: 5 June 2019 / Revised: 14 July 2019 / Accepted: 16 July 2019 / Published: 19 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Sensors and Devices in Artificial Intelligence)
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Abstract

Propulsion during push-off (PO) is a key factor to realize human locomotion. Through the detection of real-time gait stage, assistance could be provided to the human body at the proper time. In most cases, ankle-foot exoskeletons consist of electronic sensors, microprocessors, and actuators. Although these three essential elements contribute to fulfilling the function of the detection, control, and energy injection, they result in a huge system that reduces the wearing comfort. To simplify the sensor-controller system and reduce the mass of the exoskeleton, we designed a smart clutch in this paper, which is a sensor-controller integrated system that comprises a sensing part and an executing part. With a spring functioning as an actuator, the whole exoskeleton system is completely made up of mechanical parts and has no external power source. By controlling the engagement of the actuator based on the signal acquired from the sensing part, the proposed clutch enables the ankle-foot exoskeleton (AFE) to provide additional ankle torque during PO, and allows free rotation of the ankle joint during swing phase, thus reducing the metabolic cost of the human body. There are two striking advantages of the designed clutch. On the one hand, the clutch is lightweight and reliable—it resists the possible shock during walking since there is no circuit connection or power in the system. On the other hand, the detection of gait relies on the contact states between human feet and the ground, so the clutch is universal and does not need to be customized for individuals. View Full-Text
Keywords: mechanical sensor; self-adaptiveness; ankle-foot exoskeleton; walking assistance mechanical sensor; self-adaptiveness; ankle-foot exoskeleton; walking assistance
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Wang, X.; Guo, S.; Qu, H.; Song, M. Design of a Purely Mechanical Sensor-Controller Integrated System for Walking Assistance on an Ankle-Foot Exoskeleton. Sensors 2019, 19, 3196.

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