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ICORR 2013 Workshop

Design and Control of Robotic Exoskeletons with Compliant Joints and Actuation Systems


Ashish D. Deshpande, PhD
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Director of the ReNeu Robotics Lab
University of Texas, Austin

Marcia O’Malley
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Director of the MAHI Lab
Rice University

Statement of objectives:

Robotic exoskeleton systems provide a promising avenue for assisting stroke patients to recover motor function and for easing the burden of labor intensive, highly repetitive, and therefore, costly conventional physical therapy. Design of robotic exoskeletons is challenging due to the limits on size and weight, and the need to address technical challenges in areas ranging from biomechanics, rehabilitation, actuation, sensing, physical human-robot interaction, and control based on the user intent. Since the exoskeletons are meant to be in a close physical contact with the subjects, a synergistic approach that accounts for the coupled human-robot system may be necessary.
Recently novel robotic designs, including exoskeleton designs, have been introduced with compliance at the joints and actuation. The goal of this workshop is to understand the effects of introduction of compliance on the overall performance of the robotic systems, and to explore how compliant actuation and transmission may be advantageous in exoskeleton designed for rehabilitation.
Compliance plays a critical role in the human movements, for example, in walking and object manipulation, so it seems reasonable that exoskeletons with compliance may perform better than rigid exoskeletons. One big advantage of compliance is that it may lead to safer interactions by allowing for the user to push against the robot. Also by introducing appropriate compliance in the exoskeletons, specific impedance may be introduced at the human-robot interaction, which may lead to better controls and more comfort for the user. And compliance can also be utilized as a low-cost for force sensing, especially, in the case of series elastic actuation.
The overall objective of the proposed workshop is to provoke a discussion on why introducing compliance might be beneficial, to gain insights into what we really add and loose, to generalize findings across robotic systems (humanoids, industrial arms, mobile manipulators), and to identify specific effects in case of exoskeletons for rehabilitation (walking, shoulder-arm rehabilitation and wrist-hand rehabilitation).

Intended Audience:
Researchers interested in the design and control of novel exoskeleton systems
Researchers interested in the design and development of novel robotic actuators
Students and researchers interested in learning about the state-of-the-art in rehabilitation robot design

Workshop Schedule:

1:45 PM                    Welcome, Introductions (Deshpande, O’Malley)
2:00 PM – 3:40 PM      Invited talks (5 @ 20 min each)
3:40 PM – 4:00 PM      Coffee Break
4:00 PM – 4:40PM       Short talks (4@ 10min each)
4:40 PM – 6:00 PM      Invited talks (4 @ 20 min each)
6:00 PM – 6:15 PM      Discussion and Closing (Deshpande, O’Malley)

Workshop Presenters:




Talk Title

Carloni, Raffaella

University of Twente

Variable stiffness actuators for locomotion

Deshpande, Ashish

The University of Texas at Austin

Effects of Introduction of Compliance in Actuation VS at Joints in Rehabilitation Robots

Keller, Urs

ETH Zurich

Compliant Robots for Pediatric Arm Rehabilitation

Masia, Lorenzo

Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia

Variable Impedance actuation principles for Emerging Assistive/rehabilitation Systems

Neuhaus, Peter


Design and Evaluation of IHMC’s Force Controllable Actuators

O’Malley, Marcia

Rice University

Design and Evaluation of a Robot with Series Compliance for Wrist Rehabilitation

Sergi, Fabrizio

Universita’ Campus Bio-Medico Di Roma and Rice University

A non-anthropomorphic wearable robot for locomotion assistance with series elastic actuators

Van der Kooij, Herman

University of Twente

Advantages and Disadvantages Of Series Elastic Actuators in Rehabilitation Robotics

Walsh, Conor

Harvard University 

Soft Wearable Robots for Gait Assistance