Lower Limb Exoskeletons and Exosuits
Our lower limb robotic exoskeleton research focuses on the development and evaluation of devices for gait rehabilitation and mobility assistance. We investigate physical human-exoskeleton interaction in order to identify limiting factors. We then translate these findings into novel designs of versatile, rigid exoskeletons and novel soft exosuit approaches. By addressing existing limitations, we aim to improve the performance and acceptance of exoskeletal devices and their application in daily life.
Our approach is to develop assistive and rehabilitation lower limb exoskeletons and exosuits that provide a defined and optimized support while reducing the constraints imposed by the system to increase the overall performance. Versatile research prototypes allow us to test new aspects and components and to evaluate new exoskeleton designs.
VLEXO – Exoskeleton Research Platform
The mobile, passive VLEXO (versatile lower limb exoskeleton) is our current research platform to develop and evaluate new exoskeleton components. It allows for a simple alteration of its kinematic structure (number and kind of DOFs), dynamics and mechanical interfaces to investigate how different configurations affect the user. Aim of the project is to develop and evaluate ergonomic exoskeleton structures that can be used in different future systems.
MAXX – Mobility Assisting teXtile eXoskeleton
Exosuits are active, garment-like exoskeletons that can restore or assist mobility and promote independence in physically impaired individuals. We developed a first prototype of such a soft, robotic device, named MAXX (Mobility Assisting teXtile eXoskeleton). The robot primarily consists of functional textiles and lacks rigid structures as they are used in conventional, lower-limb exoskeletons. It is soft, flexible and lightweight, and thus, does not restrict or interfere with the wearer.
Lokomat Gait Rehabilitation Robot
Current research of our group focuses on improving the effectiveness of robot-aided gait training in three ways. First, patient-cooperative control is used so that the robot adapts its behavior to the patient´s needs. Second, additional degrees of freedom for the robotic orthosis allow a more natural walking pattern and last a virtual reality environment is used to maximize the patient’s motivation.
Modular Lower Limb Exoskeletons
The reconfigurable exoskeleton is a feasibility and design study of a modular lower limb exoskeleton that can be adapted on a mechanical level to the intended user group and application. The introduced modular design allows to compose lower limb robotic exoskeletons with up to four degrees of freedom per leg. To each joint, a module can be added to define the functionality. Three different modules are introduced: one actuator for active support and two different adjustable spring modules that stabilize the joint around an equilibrium position.
VariLeg Exoskeleton for Paraplegics
In the context of the ETH Focus Project “VariLeg”, the SMS Lab is involved in the VARILEG Exoskeleton project. The system is developed by a team of students that designed and built an actuated lower limb exoskeleton for paraplegic users. The team is supported and supervised by members of the PDZ (Prof. Meboldt), the Relab (Prof. Gassert) and the SMS Lab.