Controlling pneumatic artificial muscles in exoskeletons with surface electromyography

Vincent Groenhuis, Mervin Chandrapal, Stefano Stramigioli, XiaoQi Chen

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    Abstract

    Powered exoskeletons are gaining more interest in the last few years, as useful devices to provide assistance to elderly and disabled people. Many different types of powered exoskeletons have been studied in the past. In this research paper, a soft lower limb exoskeleton driven by pneumatic artificial muscles (PAMs) is presented. It features a lightweight, flexible solution to attach actuators to human limbs without imposing restrictions on limb movements. Ankle plantarflexion and knee extension by both legs are assisted. Surface electromyography (sEMG) sensors are used to measure muscle activity, which are amplified and used as input to control the pressure in the corresponding PAMs proportionally to sEMG activity level. No force or torque measurements/estimations are performed, this is not strictly necessary because of the similarity between human muscles and PAMs. Employing the principle of assistance-as-needed, allows for a range of activities to be supported, such as walking, standing up and climbing stairs. Metabolic measurements in different scenarios did not register a significant change in energy expenditure when the (passive) exoskeleton is worn, even not when it is activated although the assistance can be experienced physically. More research is needed to optimize the whole system in different aspects, in order to obtain a significant reduction in energy expenditure and make the system practical.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages451-457
    Number of pages7
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2014
    Event14th Mechatronics Forum International Conference, MECHATRONICS 2014 - Karlstad, Sweden
    Duration: 16 Jun 201418 Jun 2014
    Conference number: 14

    Conference

    Conference14th Mechatronics Forum International Conference, MECHATRONICS 2014
    CountrySweden
    CityKarlstad
    Period16/06/1418/06/14

    Keywords

    • Pneumatic artificial muscle
    • IR-103358
    • EWI-27708
    • Surface electromyography

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