Human-Interactive Robotics Lab (HIRoLab)

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Our new 2-DOF instrumented vibrating platform for estimation of the mechanical impedance of ankle

The instrumented vibrating platform applies pseudo-random torque perturbations to the ankle during the stance phase of gait. The resulting ankle movements in dorsiflexion-plantarflexion and inversion-eversion are recorded using a camera system. The platform allows for estimation of the mechanical impedance of the ankle during walking in arbitrary directions. Bowden cable transfers the power from the actuation module to the forceplate module, while providing the system with a low profile.

 

Towards the agile gait: Our new 2-DOF agile robotic ankle-foot  prosthesis!

A robotic ankle-foot capable of dorsiflexion-plantarflexion and inversion-eversion is promising for an agile gait. The actuation system connects to the prosthesis using Bowden cables, allowing for its optimized placement while tailored to the user’s preference. The design versatility would let the user mount and dismount the actuation system based on the planned activities of the day.

 

Turning on the Circular Treadmill; First Steps!

An evaluation platform is being developed that consists of a circular treadmill and a gait emulator mechanism. The platform allows for repeatable experiments on the prototype steerable prosthesis with different gait speeds and loads to define a performance criterion for the steerable prostheses, and enable iterative improvements to the design of the prosthesis.

The platform will be used for developing the control methods for the prototype prosthesis to accommodate different surface profiles and different radiuses of turn. It will be used to explore how a steerable ankle-foot prosthesis may enhance maneuverability for traversing slopes.

See Michigan Tech News. It has also been featured in The Engineer, Phys.org, Science Daily, Gizmag, Gigaom, Daily Planet Discovery, Kurzweil, The O&P Edge, Medical Design Technology, Newswise IEEE SpectrumASEE First Bell,and other news outlets.

 

Steerable Ankle-foot Robotic Prosthesis

The objective of this research is to develop a practical, low-weight, tendon-driven, ankle-foot prosthetic robot capable of steering to enhance agility during turnings and accommodating for the changes in the profile and slope of the ground.

This prototype is aimed to mimic the mechanical impedance of the human ankle in both dorsiflexion-plantarflexion and inversion-eversion DOFs.

 

Ankle Rotations During Stance Period of Step Turn

This study compares the three-dimentional rotations of the ankle during straight walk and step turn. Infrared camera system (Qualisys Oqus ®) is used to track the trajectories and angles of the foot and leg at different stages of the gait. The range of motion in inversion-eversion (IE) increased during turning while rotation in lateral-medial (ML) direction decreased and dorsiflexion-plantarflexion (DP) changed the least. The results suggest the addition of an extra controllable degree of freedom in the inversion-eversion direction to  prosthetic ankle-foot robots may enhance their maneuverability. 

 walkway

Estimation of Human Ankle Mechanical Impedance

Mechanical impedance of human ankle plays a major role in lower extremity functions and locomotion. Mechanical impedance of the ankle defines the evoked torques in the ankle to the motion perturbations.

The aim of this study is to estimate the mechanical impedance of human ankle in different periods of gait. The results will be used for the design of the lower extremity assistive robots, including ankle-foot prosthetic robots, that mimic the time-varying mechanical impedance of human ankle during different scenarios of gait, such as steering and traversing a slope that require an ankle joint with controllable degrees of freedom in both sagittal and frontal planes.

Anklebot (Interactive Motion Technologies, Inc.) is the main device used in this study to apply torque perturbations to the human ankle, measure the movement of the foot, and identify the mechanical impedance of the ankle.

Anklebot is a backdrivable therapeutic robot with low friction that allows human subjects to move their foot freely in three DOFs relative to the shank. Of those, two DOF are actuated by two nearly-parallel linear actuators attached to the leg (through a shoe and knee-brace) and aligned approximately between the knee and the ball of the foot. Subjects wear a modified shoe and a knee brace, to which the Anklebot is connected.

This collaborative research has been featured in MIT News and other news outlets such as CNET, Science Daily  and Phys Org.

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Anklebot setup for estimation of ankle mechanical impedance in dorsi-plantarflexion and inversion-eversion (left) and internal-external rotations in lateral-medial directions (right)

Experiments for estimation of Dynamic Mechanical Impedance in 3 DOF of ankle.