A robotic exoskeleton refers to a sort of a wearable “shell” that is made of different robotic parts. The exoskeleton has the ability to improve the stability, capabilities, and strength of users. It can do so by helping them to take on heavy physical tasks while putting in less effort. This benefits the patients in their rehabilitation post-accident. The robotics field has experienced significant developments that have helped in the fabrication of increasingly intricate robotic limbs and exoskeletons.
Till now, exoskeletons were being created with the help of a model based on a fixed-axis rotating hinge. Although this model can be considered effective and simple, it cannot imitate human joint rotation appropriately. It cannot reflect the polycentric way of joints, which can impair or restrict the movements of individuals wearing them.
Recently researchers have introduced a new join model, and they are confident that it would lead to the development of more robust and stable exoskeletons. The study may turn out to be a vast development in the wearable robotic exoskeleton market as it may pave the way for more effective exoskeletons and robotic structures.
The research was inspired by arthropods. They are a class of invertebrate animals that have biological exoskeletons, joint appendages, and segmented bodies. Types of arthropods are insects, arachnids, myriapods, crustaceans. The scientists took up a joint model that is based on the anatomy of grasshopper joints, which have a flexible body and consist of two conjugate surfaces. It is because bionic motion used with the n-bar linkage to make joints results in several complexities. Its excessive use can result in unstable and loose exoskeletons structures, which would cause a problem for patients in rehabilitation or those who have paralyzed limbs.
To test their research, the team used their model and made a prototype joint for exoskeletons. This was done with the help of an algorithm developed by them. They did a series of experiments to verify the joint's performance and its kinematic characteristics.
For the future, this arthropod inspired joint model may come to be the key to building more effective exoskeletons or other different types of robotic structures. This can be used for several applications like enhancement of human capabilities or rehabilitation of patients after injury etc. Compared with other exoskeleton design strategies that are available today, the new model could enable humans to move more freely and naturally. Moreover, it would ensure that an individual’s body is adequately supported.
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