A novel self-aligning mechanism to decouple force and torques for a planar exoskeleton joint
The design of exoskeletons is a popular and promising area of research both for restoring lost function and rehabilitation, and for augmentation in military and industrial applications. A major practical challenge to the comfort and usability for exoskeletons is the need to avoid misalignment of the exoskeletal joint with the underlying human joint. Alignment mismatches are difficult to prevent due to large inter-user variability, and can create large stresses on the attachment system and underlying human anatomy. Previous self-aligning systems have been proposed in literature, which can compensate for muscle forces, but leave large residual forces passed directly to the skeletal system. In this paper we propose a new mechanism to reduce misalignment complications. A decoupling approach is proposed which allows large forces to be carried by the exoskeletal system while allowing both the muscle and skeletal joint force presented to the user to be compensated to any desired degree.