Kinematic Design to Improve Ergonomics in Human Machine Interaction
This paper introduces a novel kinematic design paradigm for ergonomic human machine interaction. Goals for optimal design are formulated generically and applied to the mechanical design of an upper-arm exoskeleton. A nine degree-of-freedom (DOF) model of the human arm kinematics is presented and used to develop, test, and optimize the kinematic structure of an human arm interfacing exoskeleton. The resulting device can interact with an unprecedented portion of the natural limb workspace, including motions in the shoulder-girdle, shoulder, elbow, and the wrist. The exoskeleton does not require alignment to the human joint axes, yet is able to actuate each DOF of our redundant limb unambiguously and without reaching into singularities. The device is comfortable to wear and does not create residual forces if misalignments exist. Implemented in a rehabilitation robot, the design features of the exoskeleton could enable longer lasting training sessions, training of fully natural tasks such as activities of daily living and shorter dress-on and dress-off times. Results from inter-subject experiments with a prototype are presented, that verify usability over the entire workspace of the human arm, including shoulder and shoulder girdle.
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