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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  2. Task-dependent controllers widely used in exoskeletons track predefined trajectories, which overly constrain the volitional motion of individuals with remnant voluntary mobility. Energy shaping, on the other hand, provides task-invariant assistance by altering the human body's dynamic characteristics in the closed loop. While human-exoskeleton systems are often modeled using Euler-Lagrange equations, in our previous work we modeled the system as a port-controlled-Hamiltonian system, and a task-invariant controller was designed for a knee-ankle exoskeleton using interconnection-damping assignment passivity-based control. In this paper, we extend this framework to design a controller for a backdrivable hip exoskeleton to assist multiple tasks. A set of basis functions that contains information of kinematics is selected and corresponding coefficients are optimized, which allows the controller to provide torque that fits normative human torque for different activities of daily life. Human-subject experiments with two able-bodied subjects demonstrated the controller's capability to reduce muscle effort across different tasks.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  3. Although the average healthy adult transitions from sit to stand over 60 times per day, most research on powered prosthesis control has only focused on walking. In this paper, we present a data-driven controller that enables sitting, standing, and walking with minimal tuning. Our controller comprises two high level modes of sit/stand and walking, and we develop heuristic biomechanical rules to control transitions. We use a phase variable based on the user's thigh angle to parameterize both walking and sit/stand motions, and use variable impedance control during ground contact and position control during swing. We extend previous work on data-driven optimization of continuous impedance parameter functions to design the sit/stand control mode using able-bodied data. Experiments with a powered knee-ankle prosthesis used by a participant with above-knee amputation demonstrate promise in clinical outcomes, as well as trade-offs between our minimal-tuning approach and accommodation of user preferences. Specifically, our controller enabled the participant to complete the sit/stand task 20% faster and reduced average asymmetry by half compared to his everyday passive prosthesis. The controller also facilitated a timed up and go test involving sitting, standing, walking, and turning, with only a mild (10%) decrease in speed compared to the everyday prosthesis.more »Our sit/stand/walk controller enables multiple activities of daily life with minimal tuning and mode switching.« less
  4. Elastic actuation can improve human-robot interaction and energy efficiency for wearable robots. Previous work showed that the energy consumption of series elastic actuators can be a convex function of the series spring compliance. This function is useful to optimally select the series spring compliance that reduces the motor energy consumption. However, series springs have limited influence on the motor torque, which is a major source of the energy losses due to the associated Joule heating. Springs in parallel to the motor can significantly modify the motor torque and therefore reduce Joule heating, but it is unknown how to design springs that globally minimize energy consumption for a given motion of the load. In this work, we introduce the stiffness design of linear and nonlinear parallel elastic actuators via convex optimization. We show that the energy consumption of parallel elastic actuators is a convex function of the spring stiffness and compare the energy savings with that of optimal series elastic actuators. We analyze robustness of the solution in simulation by adding uncertainty of 20% of the RMS load kinematics and kinetics for the ankle, knee, and hip movements for level-ground human walking. When the winding Joule heating losses are dominant withmore »respect to the viscous losses, our optimal PEA designs outperform SEA designs by further reducing the motor energy consumption up to 63%. Comparing to the linear PEA designs, our nonlinear PEA designs further reduced the motor energy consumption up to 31%. From our convex formulation, our global optimal nonlinear parallel elastic actuator designs give two different elongation-torque curves for positive and negative elongation, suggesting a clutching mechanism for the final implementation. In addition, the different torque-elongation profiles for positive and negative elongation for nonlinear parallel elastic actuators can cause sensitivity of the energy consumption to changes in the nominal load trajectory.« less
  5. Task-specific, trajectory-based control methods commonly used in exoskeletons may be appropriate for individuals with paraplegia, but they overly constrain the volitional motion of individuals with remnant voluntary ability (representing a far larger population). Human-exoskeleton systems can be represented in the form of the Euler-Lagrange equations or, equivalently, the port-controlled Hamiltonian equations to design control laws that provide task-invariant assistance across a continuum of activities/environments by altering energetic properties of the human body. We previously introduced a port-controlled Hamiltonian framework that parameterizes the control law through basis functions related to gravitational and gyroscopic terms, which are optimized to fit normalized able-bodied joint torques across multiple walking gaits on different ground inclines. However, this approach did not have the flexibility to reproduce joint torques for a broader set of activities, including stair climbing and stand-to-sit, due to strict assumptions related to input-output passivity, which ensures the human remains in control of energy growth in the closed-loop dynamics. To provide biomimetic assistance across all primary activities of daily life, this paper generalizes this energy shaping framework by incorporating vertical ground reaction forces and global planar orientation into the basis set, while preserving passivity between the human joint torques and human joint velocities. Wemore »present an experimental implementation on a powered knee-ankle exoskeleton used by three able-bodied human subjects during walking on various inclines, ramp ascent/descent, and stand-to-sit, demonstrating the versatility of this control approach and its effect on muscular effort.« less
  6. At two sites in the North Central USA (Michigan (KBS) and Wisconsin (ARL)), we evaluated the effect of N fertilization on the yield and quality of five perennial bioenergy feedstock cropping systems: (1) switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), (2) giant miscanthus (Miscanthus × giganteus), (3) a native grass mixture (5 species), (4) an early successional field (volunteer herbaceous species), and (5) a restored prairie (18 species). In a randomized complete block design with 5 replicates and 2 split plots, N was applied at 0 and 56 kg ha−1 to split plots for each cropping system from 2010 to 2016. No yield response to N was detected in switchgrass at either location in any year. Giant miscanthus exhibited a positive yield response to N at both sites (11% at KBS and 83% at ARL). Nitrogen fertilizer addition significantly reduced glucose (KBS 12.9 and 13.8 g kg−1 year−1, ARL 11.2 and 9.7 g kg−1 year−1) in the native grass mix and restored prairie systems respectively. Nitrogen fertilizer also reduced xylose at KBS in the switchgrasss, native grass mix, and restored prairie (4.9, 7.5, and 5.0 g kg−1 year−1). At ARL, N fertilization reduced xylose levels in switchgrass, giant miscanthus, and restored prairie (7.4,more »6.8, and 6.2 g kg−1 year−1) and increased xylose levels in the early successional system (5.0 g kg−1 year−1).« less
  7. Abstract

    In 2017, three major hurricanes (Irma, Jose, and Maria) impacted the Northeastern Caribbean within a 2-week span. Hurricane waves can cause physical damage to coastal ecosystems, re-suspend and transport antecedent seafloor sediment, while the associated intense rainfall can yield large influxes of land-derived sediment to the coast (e.g. burial of ecosystems). To understand sedimentation provenance (terrestrial or marine) and changes induced by the hurricanes, we collected bathymetry surveys and sediment samples of Coral Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands in August 2017, (pre-storms) and repeated it in November 2017 (post-storms). Comparison reveals morphologic seafloor changes and widespread aggradation with an average of ~25 cm of sediment deposited over a 1.28 km2benthic zone. Despite an annual amount of precipitation between surveys, sediment yield modeling suggests watersheds contributed <0.2% of the total depositional volume. Considering locally established accumulation rates, this multi-hurricane event equates to ~1–3 centuries of deposition. Critical benthic communities (corals, seagrasses) can be partially or fully buried by deposits of this thickness and previous studies demonstrate that prolonged burial of similar organisms often leads to mortality. This study illuminates how storm events can result in major sediment deposition, which can significantly impact seafloor morphology and composition and benthic ecosystems.

  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023