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Title: Robust Torque Predictions From Electromyography Across Multiple Levels of Active Exoskeleton Assistance Despite Non-linear Reorganization of Locomotor Output
Robotic exoskeletons can assist humans with walking by providing supplemental torque in proportion to the user's joint torque. Electromyographic (EMG) control algorithms can estimate a user's joint torque directly using real-time EMG recordings from the muscles that generate the torque. However, EMG signals change as a result of supplemental torque from an exoskeleton, resulting in unreliable estimates of the user's joint torque during active exoskeleton assistance. Here, we present an EMG control framework for robotic exoskeletons that provides consistent joint torque predictions across varying levels of assistance. Experiments with three healthy human participants showed that using diverse training data (from different levels of assistance) enables robust torque predictions, and that a convolutional neural network (CNN), but not a Kalman filter (KF), can capture the non-linear transformations in EMG due to exoskeleton assistance. With diverse training, the CNN could reliably predict joint torque from EMG during zero, low, medium, and high levels of exoskeleton assistance [root mean squared error (RMSE) below 0.096 N-m/kg]. In contrast, without diverse training, RMSE of the CNN ranged from 0.106 to 0.144 N-m/kg. RMSE of the KF ranged from 0.137 to 0.182 N-m/kg without diverse training, and did not improve with diverse training. When participant time is limited, training data should emphasize the highest levels of assistance first and utilize at least 35 full gait cycles for the CNN. The results presented here constitute an important step toward adaptive and robust human augmentation via robotic exoskeletons. This work also highlights the non-linear reorganization of locomotor output when using assistive exoskeletons; significant reductions in EMG activity were observed for the soleus and gastrocnemius, and a significant increase in EMG activity was observed for the erector spinae. Control algorithms that can accommodate spatiotemporal changes in muscle activity have broad implications for exoskeleton-based assistance and rehabilitation following neuromuscular injury.  more » « less
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Frontiers in Neurorobotics
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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