North Carolina State University is looking for commercial partners to license and commercialize a novel hip exoskeleton.
Exoskeletons are used to improve the wearer’s mobility. Traditionally these assist with walking, requiring the wearer to use aids for stability, such as crutches or a walker. This is due to the exoskeletons only providing balance in the sagittal plane. This hinders the wearer’s freedom to use their arms and may increase the dependency on the use of the exoskeleton, discouraging motor learning.
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a novel, high-power, self-balancing hip exoskeleton that is passively and software-controlled actively compliant when interacting with the wearer. Unlike current hip exoskeletons this emphasizes assistance for both walking and stability, with powered actuators in both the sagittal and frontal planes. The hip exoskeleton will real-time adjust the step length and step width as well as provide assistance in lateral weight shift to improve walking stability. The hip exoskeleton driven by modular clutch-able series elastic actuators, it provides mechanical compliance at the interface between the exoskeleton and the wearer to ensure safety and a natural gait in the coupled wearer-exoskeleton system. The clutches can automatic turn off to disconnect the motion between exoskeleton and human to ensure safety. The modular series elastic actuators integrated with torque sensor. The hip exoskeleton can real-time measures the interaction force between exoskeleton joint and human leg. And the hip exoskeleton will real-time adjust the compliance based on the torque sensor feedback to ensure safety and a natural gait in the coupled wearer-exoskeleton system. It is a high powered design allowing use for individuals with weakness in their lower limbs. It adds minimal weight to the user reducing risks of gait change or increasing energy expenditure.
- Powered actuators for sagittal and frontal planes
- Assists with balance and stability
- Reduced weight
- HAA joints correction strategy prevents imbalances
- Reduced energy expenditure
- Electronic failsafe system protects users
About the Lead Inventor
Dr. Huang received a BS from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China and MS and PhD degrees from Arizona State University. She was a postdoctoral research associate in the Center for Bionic Medicine at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Prior to joining the NC State faculty, she was an assistant professor from 2008 to 2012 and an associate professor from 2012 to 2013 at the University of Rhode Island, both in biomedical engineering. She has received the Delsys Prize for Innovation in Electromyography, the Mary E. Switzer Fellowship with the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. She is a senior member of IEEE and member of the Society for Neuroscience.