Advances and Challenges in Wearable Robotics for Dynamic and Varied Tasks

A special issue of Machines (ISSN 2075-1702). This special issue belongs to the section "Robotics, Mechatronics and Intelligent Machines".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 3784

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy
Interests: wearable robotics; control; soft robotics

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Guest Editor
Department of Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada
Interests: muscle; biomechanics; assistive and rehab robotics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Research on wearable robots is taking place in many application areas, including the assistance of movement, rehabilitation after injury or disease, injury prevention in demanding occupational tasks, and monitoring of movement for the early diagnosis of diseases. There are many promising results in each of these spaces, yet there are still challenges to making these devices ready for effective real-world use.

In this Special Issue, we aim to investigate the challenges and state-of-the-art solutions of wearable robotics that can operate successfully in everyday activities. We are particularly interested in robots that assist during dynamic and varied tasks. Perhaps you have a design that senses and adapts to the environmental demands, or perhaps you’ve demonstrated that a simple static control solution is best. The field of wearable robotics is broad, and we are looking for an opportunity to share the best solutions from across areas of the field, e.g.,

  • Type of device—exoskeleton, exosuit, prosthetic;
  • Location of assistance—upper limb, lower limb, lower back;
  • Actuation design—active, passive, SEA;
  • Mechanism of actuation—pneumatic, direct torque, shape-memory alloy;
  • Control—phase-based, time-based, passive;
  • Sensing—environment, human intent.

We seek submissions with an original perspective and approaches to the theme. Research on simulations, experiments, and engineering applications is welcome.

Dr. Tommaso Proietti
Dr. Richard Nuckols
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Machines is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • control
  • sensing
  • real-world
  • adaptive
  • exosuit
  • exoskeleton
  • prosthetic
  • wearable

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

13 pages, 1790 KiB  
Article
Exploring the Impact of Passive Ankle Exoskeletons on Lower-Limb Neuromechanics during Walking on Sloped Surfaces: Implications for Device Design
by James L. Williamson, Glen A. Lichtwark and Taylor J. M. Dick
Machines 2023, 11(12), 1071; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines11121071 - 6 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1287
Abstract
Humans and animals navigate complex and variable terrain in day-to-day life. Wearable assistive exoskeletons interact with biological tissues to augment movement. Yet, our understanding of how these devices impact the biomechanics of movement beyond steady-state environments remains limited. We investigated how passive ankle [...] Read more.
Humans and animals navigate complex and variable terrain in day-to-day life. Wearable assistive exoskeletons interact with biological tissues to augment movement. Yet, our understanding of how these devices impact the biomechanics of movement beyond steady-state environments remains limited. We investigated how passive ankle exoskeletons influence mechanical energetics and neuromuscular control of the lower-limb during level, incline, and decline walking. We collected kinematic and kinetic measures to determine ankle, knee, and hip mechanics and surface electromyography to characterize muscle activation of lower-limb muscles while participants walked on level, incline, and decline surfaces (0°, +5°, and −5°) with exoskeletons of varying stiffnesses (0–280 Nm rad−1). Our results demonstrate that walking on incline surfaces with ankle exoskeletons was associated with increased negative work and power at the knee and increased positive work and power at the hip. These alterations in joint energetics may be linked to an additional requirement to load the springy exoskeleton in incline conditions. Decline walking with ankle exoskeletons had no influence on knee or hip energetics, likely owing to disrupted exoskeleton clutch actuation. To effectively offload the musculoskeletal system during walking on sloped surfaces, alterations to passive ankle exoskeleton clutch design are necessary. Full article
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19 pages, 6091 KiB  
Article
Minimizing Misalignment and Frame Protrusion of Shoulder Exoskeleton via Optimization for Reducing Interaction Force and Minimizing Volume
by Jihwan Yoon, Sumin Kim, Junyoung Moon, Jehyeok Kim and Giuk Lee
Machines 2022, 10(12), 1223; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines10121223 - 15 Dec 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1854
Abstract
Although industrial shoulder exoskeletons have undergone rapid advancement, their acceptance by industrial workers is limited owing to the misalignment and interference between the exoskeletal frame and the wearer’s body and bulkiness of the frames. Several joint mechanisms have been developed to offset misalignments; [...] Read more.
Although industrial shoulder exoskeletons have undergone rapid advancement, their acceptance by industrial workers is limited owing to the misalignment and interference between the exoskeletal frame and the wearer’s body and bulkiness of the frames. Several joint mechanisms have been developed to offset misalignments; however, none of the existing systems can simultaneously alleviate the interference and bulkiness problems. Furthermore, the reduction in the misalignments in terms of forces generated at the human–robot interface has not been experimentally verified. Therefore, in this study, design optimization was performed to address the various factors that limit the use of the existing industrial shoulder exoskeletons. Upper body motions were captured and converted into a target trajectory for the exoskeleton to follow. The optimal prismatic–revolute–revolute joint configuration was derived and used to manufacture a skeletal mock-up, which was used to perform experiments. The misalignments of the optimized configuration in the considered motions were 67% lower than those for the conventional joint configuration. Furthermore, the interaction forces were negligible (1.35 N), with a maximum reduction of 61.8% compared to those of conventional configurations. Full article
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