Powered lower limb exoskeletons require high-performance actuator systems, capable of producing zero to high-assistive torque and at the same time yielding to human interaction torques. Such variable impedance can be achieved by the means of compliant actuators. Because of their intrinsic compliance and high force-to-weight ratio pneumatic muscles are a viable option. However, previous pneumatic muscle powered exoskeleton designs either used them as a position source or failed to meet the high-dynamic torque requirements when using them as a torque source. This paper contributes to the improvement of pneumatic muscle-based actuator systems as a torque source for exoskeleton-type robots. The use of pleated pneumatic artificial muscles in a novel actuator system design allows for a higher torque range in a larger range of motion. Performance evaluation results are given for a 1 DOF test setup and a powered knee exoskeleton. The proposed torque controller achieves the dynamic torques required for zero to full assistance at moderate walking speeds.
- Actuator dynamics compliant actuators pneumatic muscles powered exoskeletons torque control