Despite significant advancements in the field of wearable robots (WRs), commercial WRs still use traditional direct-drive actuation units to power their joints. On the other hand, in research prototypes compliant actuators are increasingly being used to more adequately address the issues of safety, robustness, control and overall system efficiency. The advantages of mechanical compliance are exploited in a novel modular actuator prototype designed for the knee joint. Due to its modularity, the actuator can be implemented in a knee joint of a standalone or a multi-joint lower-limbs orthosis, for use in gait rehabilitation and/or walking assistance. Differently from any other actuator used in orthotic research prototypes, it combines a Variable Stiffness Actuator (VSA) and a Parallel Elasticity Actuation (PEA) unit in a single modular system. Although independent, the units are designed to work together in order to fully mimic dynamic behavior of the human knee joint. In this paper, design aspects and functional evaluation of the new actuator are presented and a rationale for such a design in biomechanics of the human knee joint is given. The VSA subsystem is characterized in a quasi-static benchmarking environment and the results showing main performance indicators are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIROS 2017 - IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5386-2682-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-5386-2683-2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2017
Event2017 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2017) - Vancouver, Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 24 Sep 201728 Sep 2017


Conference2017 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2017)

ID: 32635029