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Title: Shared Control of a Powered Exoskeleton and Functional Electrical Stimulation Using Iterative Learning
A hybrid exoskeleton comprising a powered exoskeleton and functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a promising technology for restoration of standing and walking functions after a neurological injury. Its shared control remains challenging due to the need to optimally distribute joint torques among FES and the powered exoskeleton while compensating for the FES-induced muscle fatigue and ensuring performance despite highly nonlinear and uncertain skeletal muscle behavior. This study develops a bi-level hierarchical control design for shared control of a powered exoskeleton and FES to overcome these challenges. A higher-level neural network–based iterative learning controller (NNILC) is derived to generate torques needed to drive the hybrid system. Then, a low-level model predictive control (MPC)-based allocation strategy optimally distributes the torque contributions between FES and the exoskeleton’s knee motors based on the muscle fatigue and recovery characteristics of a participant’s quadriceps muscles. A Lyapunov-like stability analysis proves global asymptotic tracking of state-dependent desired joint trajectories. The experimental results on four non-disabled participants validate the effectiveness of the proposed NNILC-MPC framework. The root mean square error (RMSE) of the knee joint and the hip joint was reduced by 71.96 and 74.57%, respectively, in the fourth iteration compared to the RMSE in the 1st sit-to-stand iteration.  more » « less
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Frontiers in Robotics and AI
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Introduction

    Individuals who have suffered a cervical spinal cord injury prioritize the recovery of upper limb function for completing activities of daily living. Hybrid FES-exoskeleton systems have the potential to assist this population by providing a portable, powered, and wearable device; however, realization of this combination of technologies has been challenging. In particular, it has been difficult to show generalizability across motions, and to define optimal distribution of actuation, given the complex nature of the combined dynamic system.


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    The MPC-based hybrid controller showed a reduction in sum of squared torques by an average of 48.7 and 57.9% on the elbow flexion/extension and wrist flexion/extension joints respectively, with only small differences in tracking accuracy compared to the exoskeleton alone.


    To realize practical implementation of hybrid FES-exoskeleton systems, the control strategy requires translation to multi-DOF movements, achieving more consistent improvement across participants, and balancing control to more fully leverage the muscles' capabilities.

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