Development of an Active Cable-Driven, Force-Controlled Robotic System for Walking Rehabilitation

Juan Fang, Michael Haldimann, Laura Marchal-Crespo, Kenneth J. Hunt

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In a parallel development to traditional rigid rehabilitation robotic systems, cable-driven systems are becoming popular. The robowalk expander product uses passive elastic bands in the training of the lower limbs. However, a well-controlled assistance or resistance is desirable for effective walking relearning and muscle training. To achieve well-controlled force during locomotion training with the robowalk expander, we replaced the elastic bands with actuator-driven cables and implemented force control algorithms for regulation of cable tensions. The aim of this work was to develop an active cable-driven robotic system, and to evaluate force control strategies for walking rehabilitation using frequency-domain analysis. The system parameters were determined through experiment-assisted simulation. Then force-feedback lead controllers were developed for static force tracking, and velocity-feedforward lead compensators were implemented to reduce velocity-related disturbances during walking. The technical evaluation of the active cable-driven robotic system showed that force-feedback lead controllers produced satisfactory force tracking in the static tests with a mean error of 5.5%, but in the dynamic tests, a mean error of 13.2% was observed. Further implementation of the velocity-feedforward lead compensators reduced the force tracking error to 9% in dynamic tests. With the combined control algorithms, the active cable-driven robotic system produced constant force within the four cables during walking on the treadmill, with a mean force-tracking error of 10.3%. This study demonstrates that the force control algorithms are technically feasible. The active cable-driven, force-controlled robotic system has the potential to produce user-defined assistance or resistance in rehabilitation and fitness training.

Original languageEnglish
Article number651177
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Neurorobotics
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • cable-driven robots
  • dynamic modeling
  • force control
  • frequency-domain analysis
  • rehabilitation robotic systems
  • velocity compensation


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