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Research Papers

An Innovative Design of Artificial Knee Joint Actuator With Energy Recovery Capabilities

[+] Author and Article Information
Roberta Alò

Dipartimento di Meccanica,
Matematica e Management,
Politecnico di Bari,
Viale Japigia 182,
Bari 70126, Italy
e-mail: roberta.alo@poliba.it

Francesco Bottiglione

Dipartimento di Meccanica,
Matematica e Management,
Politecnico di Bari,
Viale Japigia 182,
Bari 70126, Italy
e-mail: francesco.bottiglione@poliba.it

Giacomo Mantriota

Dipartimento di Meccanica,
Matematica e Management,
Politecnico di Bari,
Viale Japigia 182,
Bari 70126, Italy
e-mail: giacomo.mantriota@poliba.it

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received October 29, 2014; final manuscript received March 3, 2015; published online August 18, 2015. Assoc. Editor: James Schmiedeler.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 8(1), 011009 (Aug 18, 2015) (8 pages) Paper No: JMR-14-1310; doi: 10.1115/1.4030056 History: Received October 29, 2014

The actuation systems of lower limbs exoskeletons have been extensively investigated and, presently, a great effort is aimed at reducing the weight and improving the efficiency, thus increasing the operating range for battery-operated devices. In this work, an innovative and more efficient actuation system to power the knee joint is proposed. The key and nonconventional elements of this alternative design are a flywheel and a micro infinitely variable transmission (IVT). This particular powertrain configuration permits to exploit efficiently the dynamics of human locomotion, which offers the possibility to recover energy. By means of simulations of level ground walking and running, it is here demonstrated how storing energy in the flywheel permits to reduce the energy consumption and to downsize the electric motor.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Speed and power requirements of the knee joint in level ground walking [3]

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Fig. 2

Configuration of the actuation system proposed under direct, reverse, and irreversible operating conditions. The arrows indicate the power flow direction in each of them.

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Fig. 3

Power requirements of the knee joint, the flywheel, and the electric machine in the F-IVT system proposed in this work to power level ground walking under ideal working conditions

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Fig. 4

The IVT ratio (a) and the motor/flywheel speed (b) in level ground walking under ideal working conditions (negligible power loss in the transmission)

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Fig. 5

Efficiency maps of all the components of the F-IVT in level ground walking at 1.1 m/s: the motor (a), the IVT (b) and the HD unit both in direct (c), and reverse (d) operating modes

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Fig. 6

Efficiency of the motor, of the IVT, and of the HD unit of F-IVT in level ground walking at 1.1 m/s

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Fig. 7

Power requirements of the knee joint, the flywheel, and the electric machine in the F-IVT. The assumed operating condition is level ground walking at 1.1 m/s. Power loss in all the components of the actuator is simulated in detail.

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Fig. 8

Efficiency of the motor and of the HD unit of FR-D in level ground walking at 1.1 m/s

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Fig. 9

Electric energy and peak power requirements in level ground walking and running with F-IVT and FR-D actuators

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Fig. 10

Speed and power requirements of the knee joint in a cycle of running [3]

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Fig. 11

Schematic picture of the shunted CVT architecture of IVT, where power circulation of type I ((a), (b)) or of type II ((c), (d)) can take place. Figures above depict the two types of power circulation in direct ((a), (c)) and in reverse ((b), (d)) operating modes.

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