Lower extremity exoskeletons offer the potential to restore ambulation to individuals with paraplegia due to spinal cord injury. However, they often rely on preprogrammed gait, initiated by switches, sensors, and/or EEG triggers. Users can exercise only limited independent control over the trajectory of the feet, the speed of walking, and the placement of feet to avoid obstacles. In this paper, we introduce and evaluate a novel approach that naturally decodes a neuromuscular surrogate for a user's neutrally planned foot control, uses the exoskeleton's motors to move the user's legs in real-time, and provides sensory feedback to the user allowing real-time sensation and path correction resulting in gait similar to biological ambulation. Users express their desired gait by applying Cartesian forces via their hands to rigid trekking poles that are connected to the exoskeleton feet through multi-axis force sensors. Using admittance control, the forces applied by the hands are converted into desired foot positions, every 10 milliseconds (ms), to which the exoskeleton is moved by its motors. As the trekking poles reflect the resulting foot movement, users receive sensory feedback of foot kinematics and ground contact that allows on-the-fly force corrections to maintain the desired foot behavior. We present preliminary results showing that our novel control can allow users to produce biologically similar exoskeleton gait.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Computer Science Applications
- Artificial Intelligence
- lower extremity exoskeletons
- rehabilitation robotics
- robot control systems
- spinal cord injury