Dephy Ankle Exoskeletons

Motivation

Robotic ankle exoskeletons can supplement the user’s biological ankle power with mechanical power from the device. These devices have the potential to restore healthy walking mechanics in individuals with mobility challenges or to augment the performance of able-bodied individuals by enabling them to walk farther, run faster or carry heavier loads. We are interested in how to best control these devices and seek to explore the complex physiological interactions between the exoskeleton and the human user. 

Approach

Originally designed in the Biomechatronics Group at the MIT Media Lab, these exoskeletons are commercially available and manufactured by Dephy, Inc. (Maynard, MA). This system was the first autonomous (untethered) robotic ankle exoskeleton to reduce the energy cost of walking below that of walking without the exoskeleton. 

Our current efforts include designing controllers to assist users during walking and a variety of other ambulation tasks. We are also investigating basic physiological questions, like evaluating how well users can sense differences in exoskeleton controllers and how well they can sense their own metabolic effort. 

Contributors: Kim Ingraham, Leo Medrano, Elliott Rouse

Publications

Mooney, L. M., Rouse, E. J., & Herr, H. M. (2014). Autonomous exoskeleton reduces metabolic cost of human walking. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation11(1), 151. doi.org/10.1186/1743-0003-11-151

Mooney, L. M., Rouse, E. J., & Herr, H. M. (2014). Autonomous exoskeleton reduces metabolic cost of human walking during load carriage. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation11(1), 80. doi.org/10.1186/1743-0003-11-80