Closed-Loop Torque and Kinematic Control of a Hybrid Lower-Limb Exoskeleton for Treadmill Walking

Chen Hao Chang, Jonathan Casas, Steven W. Brose, Victor H. Duenas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Restoring and improving the ability to walk is a top priority for individuals with movement impairments due to neurological injuries. Powered exoskeletons coupled with functional electrical stimulation (FES), called hybrid exoskeletons, exploit the benefits of activating muscles and robotic assistance for locomotion. In this paper, a cable-driven lower-limb exoskeleton is integrated with FES for treadmill walking at a constant speed. A nonlinear robust controller is used to activate the quadriceps and hamstrings muscle groups via FES to achieve kinematic tracking about the knee joint. Moreover, electric motors adjust the knee joint stiffness throughout the gait cycle using an integral torque feedback controller. For the hip joint, a robust sliding-mode controller is developed to achieve kinematic tracking using electric motors. The human-exoskeleton dynamic model is derived using Lagrangian dynamics and incorporates phase-dependent switching to capture the effects of transitioning from the stance to the swing phase, and vice versa. Moreover, low-level control input switching is used to activate individual muscles and motors to achieve flexion and extension about the hip and knee joints. A Lyapunov-based stability analysis is developed to ensure exponential tracking of the kinematic and torque closed-loop error systems, while guaranteeing that the control input signals remain bounded. The developed controllers were tested in real-time walking experiments on a treadmill in three able-bodied individuals at two gait speeds. The experimental results demonstrate the feasibility of coupling a cable-driven exoskeleton with FES for treadmill walking using a switching-based control strategy and exploiting both kinematic and force feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number702860
JournalFrontiers in Robotics and AI
Volume8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 20 2022

Keywords

  • Lower-limb exoskeleton
  • Lyapunov methods
  • functional electrical stimulation (FES)
  • nonlinear systems
  • torque and kinematic control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence

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