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A Wearable Soft Fabric Sleeve for Upper Limb Augmentation

Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia
Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
This paper is an extension version of the conference paper: Sy, L.; Hoang, T.T.; Bussu, M.; et al. M-SAM: Miniature and Soft Artificial Muscle-Driven Wearable Robotic Fabric Exosuit for Upper Limb Augmentation. In Proceedings of 2021 IEEE 4th International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), New Haven, CT, USA, 12–16 April 2021.
Academic Editor: Antonio M. Pascoal
Sensors 2021, 21(22), 7638;
Received: 28 September 2021 / Revised: 2 November 2021 / Accepted: 15 November 2021 / Published: 17 November 2021
Soft actuators (SAs) have been used in many compliant robotic structure and wearable devices, due to their safe interaction with the wearers. Despite advances, the capability of current SAs is limited by scalability, high hysteresis, and slow responses. In this paper, a new class of soft, scalable, and high-aspect ratio fiber-reinforced hydraulic SAs is introduced. The new SA uses a simple fabrication process of insertion where a hollow elastic rubber tube is directly inserted into a constrained hollow coil, eliminating the need for the manual wrapping of an inextensible fiber around a long elastic structure. To provide high adaptation to the user skin for wearable applications, the new SAs are integrated into flexible fabrics to form a wearable fabric sleeve. To monitor the SA elongation, a soft liquid metal-based fabric piezoresistive sensor is also developed. To capture the nonlinear hysteresis of the SA, a novel asymmetric hysteresis model which only requires five model parameters in its structure is developed and experimentally validated. The new SAs-driven wearable robotic sleeve is scalable, highly flexible, and lightweight. It can also produce a large amount of force of around 23 N per muscle at around 30% elongation, to provide useful assistance to the human upper limbs. Experimental results show that the soft fabric sleeve can augment a user’s performance when working against a load, evidenced by a significant reduction on the muscular effort, as monitored by electromyogram (EMG) signals. The performance of the developed SAs, soft fabric sleeve, soft liquid metal fabric sensor, and nonlinear hysteresis model reveal that they can effectively modulate the level of assistance for the wearer. The new technologies obtained from this work can be potentially implemented in emerging assistive applications, such as rehabilitation, defense, and industry. View Full-Text
Keywords: soft robotics; wearable devices; upper limb augmentation; soft sensors; soft actuators; hysteresis modelling; fabric sleeve; liquid metal soft robotics; wearable devices; upper limb augmentation; soft sensors; soft actuators; hysteresis modelling; fabric sleeve; liquid metal
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hoang, T.T.; Sy, L.; Bussu, M.; Thai, M.T.; Low, H.; Phan, P.T.; Davies, J.; Nguyen, C.C.; Lovell, N.H.; Do, T.N. A Wearable Soft Fabric Sleeve for Upper Limb Augmentation. Sensors 2021, 21, 7638.

AMA Style

Hoang TT, Sy L, Bussu M, Thai MT, Low H, Phan PT, Davies J, Nguyen CC, Lovell NH, Do TN. A Wearable Soft Fabric Sleeve for Upper Limb Augmentation. Sensors. 2021; 21(22):7638.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hoang, Trung T., Luke Sy, Mattia Bussu, Mai T. Thai, Harrison Low, Phuoc T. Phan, James Davies, Chi C. Nguyen, Nigel H. Lovell, and Thanh N. Do 2021. "A Wearable Soft Fabric Sleeve for Upper Limb Augmentation" Sensors 21, no. 22: 7638.

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