Gravity compensation mechanisms are widely used in manipulators and exoskeletons as passive components that generate counter-gravity force and save energy. While there have been making great progresses in the design of gravity compensators, a strict condition that the axes of the gravity compensators are aligned with the axes of the links being balanced (LBBs) exactly is usually assumed implicitly, which is difficult to achieve for exoskeletons in practice. In this paper, the design method of the wearable spatial gravity compensator compatible to the misalignment between the rotation centers of the LBB and the compensator is carefully studied. First, the design of the planar gravity compensation unit (PGCU) is presented for each link when rotating in the yaw plane, and next, the PGCU is adapted into the spatial gravity compensation unit (SGCU) to accommodate the general rotation of the LBB. Then, the type synthesis of the SGCU is conducted followed by the analyses of the acting patterns of synthesized SGCUs on the LBBs and gravity compensation performances when the misalignments occur. Finally, the SGCUs are combined with timing belt mechanisms (TBMs) to construct gravity compensation mechanisms for spatial serial linkages. Simulations of an exoskeleton constructed by SGCUs are conducted to verify the performance of gravity balance and the effectiveness of the proposed design method.
Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics Open Issues