Electromyography (EMG) Signal Contributions in Speed and Slope Estimation Using Robotic Exoskeletons
Robotic exoskeletons have the capability to improve community ambulation in aging individuals. These exoskeleton controllers utilize different environmental information such as walking speeds and slope inclines to provide corresponding assistance. Several numerical approaches for estimating this environmental information have been implemented; however, they tend to be limited during dynamic changes. A possible solution is a machine learning model utilizing the user's electromyography (EMG) signals along with mechanical sensor data. We developed a neural network-based walking speed and slope estimator for a powered hip exoskeleton and explored the EMG signal contributions in both static and dynamic settings while wearing the device. We also analyzed the performance of different EMG electrode placements. The resulting machine learning model achieved error rates below 0.08 m/s RMSE and 1.3 RMSE. Our study findings from four able-bodied and two elderly subjects indicate that EMG can improve the performance by reducing the error rate by 14.8% compared to the model using only mechanical sensors. Additionally, results show that using EMG electrode configuration within the exoskeleton interface region is sufficient for the EMG model performance.