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Title: Design and preliminary evaluation of a flexible exoskeleton to assist with lifting
Abstract We present a passive (unpowered) exoskeleton that assists the back during lifting. Our exoskeleton uses carbon fiber beams as the sole means to store energy and return it to the wearer. To motivate the design, we present general requirements for the design of a lifting exoskeleton, including calculating the required torque to support the torso for people of different weights and heights. We compare a number of methods of energy storage for exoskeletons in terms of mass, volume, hysteresis, and cycle life. We then discuss the design of our exoskeleton, and show how the torso assembly leads to balanced forces. We characterize the energy storage in the exoskeleton and the torque it provides during testing with human subjects. Ten participants performed freestyle, stoop, and squat lifts. Custom image processing software was used to extract the curvature of the carbon fiber beams in the exoskeleton to determine the stored energy. During freestyle lifting, it stores an average of 59.3 J and provides a peak torque of 71.7 Nm.
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Wearable Technologies
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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