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Applied Bionics and Biomechanics
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 5813154, 14 pages
https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/5813154
Research Article

Bilateral, Misalignment-Compensating, Full-DOF Hip Exoskeleton: Design and Kinematic Validation

1Department of Mechanical Engineering and Flanders Make, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
2Department of Physical Education and Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Research, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Brussels, Belgium
3Rehabilitation Hospital Inkendaal, Inkendaalstraat 1, Vlezenbeek, 1602 Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, Belgium

Correspondence should be addressed to Karen Junius

Received 7 March 2017; Revised 29 May 2017; Accepted 15 June 2017; Published 16 July 2017

Academic Editor: Andrea Cereatti

Copyright © 2017 Karen Junius et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

A shared design goal for most robotic lower limb exoskeletons is to reduce the metabolic cost of locomotion for the user. Despite this, only a limited amount of devices was able to actually reduce user metabolic consumption. Preservation of the natural motion kinematics was defined as an important requirement for a device to be metabolically beneficial. This requires the inclusion of all human degrees of freedom (DOF) in a design, as well as perfect alignment of the rotation axes. As perfect alignment is impossible, compensation for misalignment effects should be provided. A misalignment compensation mechanism for a 3-DOF system is presented in this paper. It is validated by the implementation in a bilateral hip exoskeleton, resulting in a compact and lightweight device that can be donned fast and autonomously, with a minimum of required adaptations. Extensive testing of the prototype has shown that hip range of motion of the user is maintained while wearing the device and this for all three hip DOFs. This allowed the users to maintain their natural motion patterns when they are walking with the novel hip exoskeleton.