Design of an electrically actuated lower extremity exoskeleton
Human exoskeletons add the strength and endurance of robotics to a human's innate intellect and adaptability to help people transport heavy loads over rough, unpredictable terrain. The Berkeley lower extremity exoskeleton (BLEEX) is the first human exoskeleton that was successfully demonstrated to walk energetically autonomous while supporting its own weight plus an external payload. This paper details the design of the electric motor actuation for BLEEX and compares it to the previously designed hydraulic actuation scheme. Clinical gait analysis data was used to approximate the torques, angles and powers required at the exoskeleton's leg joints. Appropriately sized motors and gearing are selected, and put through a thorough power analysis. The compact electric joint design is described and the final electric joint performance is compared with BLEEX's previous hydraulic actuation. Overall, the electric actuation scheme is about twice as efficient and twice as heavy as the hydraulic actuation.
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