Research Papers: Design of Mechanisms and Robotic Systems

An Integrated Type and Dimensional Synthesis Method to Design One Degree-of-Freedom Planar Linkages With Only Revolute Joints for Exoskeletons

[+] Author and Article Information
Zefang Shen

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Curtin University,
Perth, WA 6102
e-mail: Zefang.shen@postgrad.curtin.edu.au

Garry Allison

Curtin Graduate Research School,
Curtin University,
Perth, WA 6102
e-mail: G.Allison@curtin.edu.au

Lei Cui

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Curtin University,
Perth, WA 6102
e-mail: Lei.Cui@curtin.edu.au

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received January 5, 2018; final manuscript received May 24, 2018; published online June 22, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Ettore Pennestri.

J. Mech. Des 140(9), 092302 (Jun 22, 2018) (12 pages) Paper No: MD-18-1008; doi: 10.1115/1.4040486 History: Received January 05, 2018; Revised May 24, 2018

Exoskeletons can assist wearers to relearn natural movements when attached to the human body. However, most current devices are bulky and heavy, which limit their application. In this paper, we integrated type and dimensional synthesis to design one degree-of-freedom (DOF) linkages consisting of only revolute joints with multiple output joints for compact exoskeletons. Type synthesis starts from a four-bar linkage where the output link generates the first angular output. Then, an RRR dyad is connected to the four-bar linkage for the second angular output while ensuring that the overall DOF of the new mechanism is 1. A third output joint is added in a similar manner. During each step, dimensional synthesis is formulated as a constrained optimization problem and solved via genetic algorithms. In the first case study, we developed a finger exoskeleton based on a 10-bar-13-joint linkage for a natural curling motion. The second case study presents a leg exoskeleton based on an 8-bar-10-joint linkage to reproduce a natural walking gait at the hip and knee joints. We manufactured the exoskeletons to validate the proposed approach.

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Fig. 1

Type synthesis illustration

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Fig. 2

Linkage types for two angular outputs

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Fig. 3

Linkage types for three angular outputs

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Fig. 6

Finger joint angles

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Fig. 7

Finger exoskeleton driving linkage schematic

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Fig. 8

Driving linkage MCP joint angular output evaluation

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Fig. 9

Metacarpophalangeal and PIP joint angular outputs evaluation from type (a0)

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Fig. 10

Metacarpophalangeal and PIP joint angular outputs evaluation from type (b0)

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Fig. 11

Feasible linkages MCP, PIP and DIP joint angular outputs evaluation

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Fig. 12

Schematic of the optimal design (a4121)

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Fig. 13

Finger exoskeleton three-dimensional (3D) model and prototype

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Fig. 14

Lower limb joint angles

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Fig. 15

Optimal design schematic (d0112)

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Fig. 16

Optimal designs evaluation

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Fig. 17

Leg exoskeleton 3D model and prototype

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Fig. 18

Finger exoskeleton vector loops



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