Remote Actuation Systems for Fully Wearable Assistive Devices: Requirements, Selection, and Optimization for Out-of-the-Lab Application of a Hand Exoskeleton

Jan Dittli, Urs A.T. Hofmann, Tobias Bützer, Gerwin Smit, Olivier Lambercy, Roger Gassert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Wearable robots assist individuals with sensorimotor impairment in daily life, or support industrial workers in physically demanding tasks. In such scenarios, low mass and compact design are crucial factors for device acceptance. Remote actuation systems (RAS) have emerged as a popular approach in wearable robots to reduce perceived weight and increase usability. Different RAS have been presented in the literature to accommodate for a wide range of applications and related design requirements. The push toward use of wearable robotics in out-of-the-lab applications in clinics, home environments, or industry created a shift in requirements for RAS. In this context, high durability, ergonomics, and simple maintenance gain in importance. However, these are only rarely considered and evaluated in research publications, despite being drivers for device abandonment by end-users. In this paper, we summarize existing approaches of RAS for wearable assistive technology in a literature review and compare advantages and disadvantages, focusing on specific evaluation criteria for out-of-the-lab applications to provide guidelines for the selection of RAS. Based on the gained insights, we present the development, optimization, and evaluation of a cable-based RAS for out-of-the-lab applications in a wearable assistive soft hand exoskeleton. The presented RAS features full wearability, high durability, high efficiency, and appealing design while fulfilling ergonomic criteria such as low mass and high wearing comfort. This work aims to support the transfer of RAS for wearable robotics from controlled lab environments to out-of-the-lab applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number596185
Number of pages20
JournalFrontiers In Robotics and AI
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • assistive device
  • Bowden cable
  • cable-driven
  • hand exoskeleton
  • out-of-the-lab
  • remote actuation
  • soft robotics
  • wearable robot

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