A team of researchers including CAU Electronics Engineering Prof. Lee Gi-uk and members of a Harvard research team led by Prof. Cornor Walsh developed a wearable robot that can assist both walking and running.
Conventional wearable robots, which are mostly hard and heavy, have failed to provide practical assistance to the users who wish to walk or run freely. The research team introduced the concept of “soft exosuit,” allowing users to wear it as a daily outfit. The team succeeded in developing the exosuit that minimizes the energetic burden and movement restriction to the wearer by combining it with the flexible apparel interface. It turned out that the exosuit reduced the wearers’ metabolic costs of walking by 9.3% and of running by 4% on average compared to when they were walking and running without the device.
Images from Wearable Robot Research
In particular, wearable robots should be designed to figure out the user’s gait and provide assistance accordingly. The research team has proved that fundamentally different biomechanics of walking and running must be considered when the user is assisted by a single device. (Science Robotics, 2017)
The researchers who realized that the movement of the center of mass is different in walking and running developed and adopted a new algorithm that can detect the user’s gait transition. The system used in the exosuit uses this new algorithm to analyze the wearer’s movement and provide required assistance.
Prof. Lee said, “We expect that the exosuit can be used for various purposes including helping the elderly move more freely and rehabilitation of patients as well as assisting specialized professionals such as soldiers and firefighters.”
The research results were published in the prestigious journal Science with a title “Reducing the metabolic rate of walking and running with a versatile, portable exosuit.” on Aug 16 (Co-first-author Prof. Lee Gi-uk, Chung-Ang University).