The optimization of the assistive force of a soft exosuit is crucial to the assistive effect. In this paper, an inertial measurement unit (IMU)-based optimization controller was designed to provide effective hip extension and flexion assistance for a soft hip-assistive exosuit. The parameters of the assistive profiles that were defined by two functions were approximatively estimated based on an analysis of biological hip power, and then optimized in real time using the hip angles measured by two IMUs bound to the thighs of the wearer. The peak and offset timings were determined using the parameters of the previous gait, while the start and stop points were determined from those of the current gait. Confirmation experiment was conducted in which four subjects were tested to demonstrate the validity of the optimization by applying the optimized parameters to the soft exosuit developed by the authors’ group. Two of the subjects completed the outdoor walking test at a self-determined pace while carrying a load of 15 kg. All the subjects conducted the walking test on a treadmill at a constant speed of 1.53 m/s with the same load. The results showed that the proposed optimization controller worked well without considering individual differences. In the outdoor walking test, the wearer’s natural gait could be maintained by applying the optimized assistive forces. In the treadmill walking test, metabolic rate with assistance turned on was reduced by 8.53 ± 2.65% (average ± SEM) compared with the result of assistance turned off.
Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics Open Issues