Infoscience

Thesis

On the dynamics of human locomotion and co-design of lower limb assistive devices

Recent developments in lower extremities wearable robotic devices for the assistance and rehabilitation of humans suffering from an impairment have led to several successes in the assistance of people who as a result regained a certain form of locomotive capability. Such devices are conventionally designed to be anthropomorphic. They follow the morphology of the human lower limbs. It has been shown previously that non-anthropomorphic designs can lead to increased comfort and better dynamical properties due to the fact that there is more morphological freedom in the design parameters of such a device. At the same time, exploitation of this freedom is not always intuitive and can be difficult to incorporate. In this work we strive towards a methodology aiding in the design of possible non-anthropomorphic structures for the task of human locomotion assistance by means of simulation and optimization. The simulation of such systems requires state of the art rigid body dynamics, contact dynamics and, importantly, closed loop dynamics. Through the course of our work, we first develop a novel, open and freely available, state of the art framework for the modeling and simulation of general coupled dynamical systems and show how such a framework enables the modeling of systems in a novel way. The resultant simulation environment is suitable for the evaluation of structural designs, with a specific focus on locomotion and wearable robots. To enable open-ended co-design of morphology and control, we employ population-based optimization methods to develop a novel Particle Swarm Optimization derivative specifically designed for the simultaneous optimization of solution structures (such as mechanical designs) as well as their continuous parameters. The optimizations that we aim to perform require large numbers of simulations to accommodate them and we develop another open and general framework to aid in large scale, population based optimizations in multi-user environments. Using the developed tools, we first explore the occurrence and underlying principles of natural human gait and apply our findings to the optimization of a bipedal gait of a humanoid robotic platform. Finally, we apply our developed methods to the co-design of a non-anthropomorphic, lower extremities, wearable robot in simulation, leading to an iterative co-design methodology aiding in the exploration of otherwise hard to realize morphological designs

Related material