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Development of a Soft Exosuit System for Walking Assistance During Stair Ascent and Descent


An exosuit is a wearable robot that supports human muscular strength from outside the human body through multiple actuators. These actuators, which have similar functions to human muscles, reduce the weight compared to existing exoskeletons and minimize awareness of the different degrees of freedom. In this study, we developed an exosuit system that assists stair ascent and descent by supporting the power of the knee joint. To develop the hardware, we designed the entire system including functional apparel and a wire-driven actuator module. To provide the exosuit wearer with walking assistance, we established control strategies based on gait analysis and a force controller by applying the admittance control method. Then, to verify the usability of this system, we conducted an experiment comparing the muscle activity of users with and without the exosuit. The results revealed that the overall muscle activity of users decreased when they wore the proposed exosuit system. Specifically, the system reduced the muscle activity of the rectus femoris by up to 47% and 31% during stair ascent and descent, respectively. Therefore, the proposed exosuit system provides effective walking assistance.

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Correspondence to Hee Don Lee.

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Recommended by Associate Editor Quoc Chi Nguyen under the direction of Editor Myo Taeg Lim. This work was supported by the Technology Innovation Program (10084657, Development of Functional Safety Technology and Risk Assessment Mitigation Technology based on International Safety Standards for Robots Operating in Human Contact Environment and 10060076, Development of a suit type exoskeleton which consist of actuator modules in the 50W class and a control method based on the human-robot muscle model for human power assistance) funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE, Korea).

Hee Don Lee received his B.S. degree in Mechatronics Engineering from the Catholic University of Daegu, Korea, in 2006, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Hanyang University, Korea, in 2008 and 2014, respectively. He is currently a senior researcher in DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science & Technology). His research interests include wearable robots, physical humanrobot interactions, bio-mechanics, and robot force control.

Heejin Park received his B.S. degree in Electronic Engineering, Keimyung University, Korea, in 2010, and an M.S. degree from the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Kyungpook National University, Korea, in 2011. He has been a Researcher at DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science & Technology) since 2011. His research interests are system control, rehabilitation robots, and smart factories.

Bak Seongho received his B.S. degree from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Chonbuk National University, Korea, in 2014, and his M.S. degree from the Department of Robotics Engineering, DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science & Technology), Korea, in 2016. From 2016 to 2019, he was a researcher in DGIST, Korea. He is currently a Ph.D. student in GIST (Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology), Korea. His research interests include deep learning, deep reinforcement learning, and CAD feature detection.

Tae Hun Kang received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Sung Kyun Kwan University, Korea, in 2000, 2002, and 2006, respectively. From 2006 to 2011, he was a Senior Research Scientist in PIRO (Pohang Institute of Intelligent Robotics), Korea. He was Adjunct Professor with Yeung Nam University, Korea, from 2010 to 2012. Since 2013, he has been with DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science & Technology), Korea. He is a Principal Research Scientist and Head of Division of Intelligent Robot in DGIST. His interest includes Healthcare Robot, Rehabilitation Robot, Legged Robot, Robot Mechanism Design, and Field Application of Robot.

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Lee, H.D., Park, H., Seongho, B. et al. Development of a Soft Exosuit System for Walking Assistance During Stair Ascent and Descent. Int. J. Control Autom. Syst. 18, 2678–2686 (2020).

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  • Exosuit
  • exosuit control
  • exosuit design
  • power assistive robot
  • walking assistance robot
  • wearable robot