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Robotic augmentation of human locomotion for high speed running

Description

Human running requires extensive training and conditioning for an individual to maintain high speeds (greater than 10mph) for an extended duration of time. Studies have shown that running at

Human running requires extensive training and conditioning for an individual to maintain high speeds (greater than 10mph) for an extended duration of time. Studies have shown that running at peak speeds generates a high metabolic cost due to the use of large muscle groups in the legs associated with the human gait cycle. Applying supplemental external and internal forces to the human body during the gait cycle has been shown to decrease the metabolic cost for walking, allowing individuals to carry additional weight and walk further distances. Significant research has been conducted to reduce the metabolic cost of walking, however, there are few if any documented studies that focus specifically on reducing the metabolic cost associated with high speed running. Three mechanical systems were designed to work in concert with the human user to decrease metabolic cost and increase the range and speeds at which a human can run.

The methods of design require a focus on mathematical modeling, simulations, and metabolic cost. Mathematical modeling and simulations are used to aid in the design process of robotic systems and metabolic testing is regarded as the final analysis process to determine the true effectiveness of robotic prototypes. Metabolic data, (VO2) is the volumetric consumption of oxygen, per minute, per unit mass (ml/min/kg). Metabolic testing consists of analyzing the oxygen consumption of a test subject while performing a task naturally and then comparing that data with analyzed oxygen consumption of the same task while using an assistive device.

Three devices were designed and tested to augment high speed running. The first device, AirLegs V1, is a mostly aluminum exoskeleton with two pneumatic linear actuators connecting from the lower back directly to the user's thighs, allowing the device to induce a torque on the leg by pushing and pulling on the user's thigh during running. The device also makes use of two smaller pneumatic linear actuators which drive cables connecting to small lever arms at the back of the heel, inducing a torque at the ankles. Device two, AirLegs V2, is also pneumatically powered but is considered to be a soft suit version of the first device. It uses cables to interface the forces created by actuators located vertically on the user's back. These cables then connect to the back of the user's knees resulting in greater flexibility and range of motion of the legs. Device three, a Jet Pack, produces an external force against the user's torso to propel a user forward and upward making it easier to run. Third party testing, pilot demonstrations and timed trials have demonstrated that all three of the devices effectively reduce the metabolic cost of running below that of natural running with no device.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Load carrying assistance device: pogo suit

Description

Wearable robots including exoskeletons, powered prosthetics, and powered orthotics must add energy to the person at an appropriate time to enhance, augment, or supplement human performance. Adding energy while not

Wearable robots including exoskeletons, powered prosthetics, and powered orthotics must add energy to the person at an appropriate time to enhance, augment, or supplement human performance. Adding energy while not being in sync with the user can dramatically hurt performance making it necessary to have correct timing with the user. Many human tasks such as walking, running, and hopping are repeating or cyclic tasks and a robot can add energy in sync with the repeating pattern for assistance. A method has been developed to add energy at the appropriate time to the repeating limit cycle based on a phase oscillator. The phase oscillator eliminates time from the forcing function which is based purely on the motion of the user. This approach has been simulated, implemented and tested in a robotic backpack which facilitates carrying heavy loads. The device oscillates the load of the backpack, based on the motion of the user, in order to add energy at the correct time and thus reduce the amount of energy required for walking with a heavy load. Models were developed in Working Model 2-D, a dynamics simulation software, in conjunction with MATLAB to verify theory and test control methods. The control system developed is robust and has successfully operated on a range of different users, each with their own different and distinct gait. The results of experimental testing validated the corresponding models.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014