DOI: 10.3390/biomimetics9030173 ISSN: 2313-7673

Development of Quasi-Passive Back-Support Exoskeleton with Compact Variable Gravity Compensation Module and Bio-Inspired Hip Joint Mechanism

Gijoon Song, Junyoung Moon, Jehyeok Kim, Giuk Lee
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology

The back support exoskeletons have garnered significant attention to alleviate musculoskeletal injuries, prevalent in industrial settings. In this paper, we propose AeBS, a quasi-passive back-support exoskeleton developed to provide variable assistive torque across the entire range of hip joint motion, for tasks with frequent load changes. AeBS can adjust the assistive torque levels while minimizing energy for the torque variation without constraining the range of motion of the hip joint. To match the requisite assistance levels for back support, a compact variable gravity compensation module with reinforced elastic elements is applied to AeBS. Additionally, we devised a bio-inspired hip joint mechanism that mimics the configuration of the human hip axis to ensure the free body motion of the wearer, significantly affecting assistive torque transmission and wearing comfort. Benchtop testing showed that AeBS has a variable assistive torque range of 5.81 Nm (ranging from 1.23 to 7.04 Nm) across a targeted hip flexion range of 135°. Furthermore, a questionnaire survey revealed that the bio-inspired hip joint mechanism effectively facilitates the transmission of the intended assistive torque while enhancing wearer comfort.

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