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Mechanical Sciences An open-access journal for theoretical and applied mechanics
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Volume 10, issue 1
Mech. Sci., 10, 11-24, 2019
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Mech. Sci., 10, 11-24, 2019
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 07 Jan 2019

Research article | 07 Jan 2019

Mechanism design and analysis of a proposed wheelchair-exoskeleton hybrid robot for assisting human movement

Zhibin Song1,2,3, Chuanyin Tian1,2,3, and Jian S. Dai1,2,3,4 Zhibin Song et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Mechanism Theory and Equipment Design and Ministry of Education, Tianjin University, Tianjin, 300350, China
  • 2School of Mechanical Engineering, Tianjin University, Tianjin, 300350, China
  • 3Centre for Advanced Mechanisms and Robotics, Tianjin University, Tianjin, 300350, China
  • 4School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, King's College London, University of London, Strand London WC2R 2LS, UK

Abstract. As a conventional mobile assistance device, a wheelchair makes people suffer from skin injuries such as bed sores and ulcer, owing to sitting on a wheelchair for a long period. And the wheelchair is barely able to adapt to complex terrains, such as stairs. With the development of robotic technology, the rise of lower-limb exoskeleton robotics provides a new means of motion assistance, and provides training of motor ability. However, it can't support a user to compete long-distance movement because a user need consume much energy to keep balance. Considering the merits and demerits of wheelchairs and exoskeletons, we propose a novel hybrid motion assistant robot that combines both. The biggest challenge is the design of a mechanism that can transform the robot from a wheelchair into an exoskeleton, as well as the reverse transformation. To achieve this goal, the mechanism must be able to achieve three configurations: the wheelchair configuration, the support configuration, and the exoskeleton configuration. To reduce the weight of the robot and make it more compact, the linkages and actuators in the mechanism are designed to be reusable when the configuration changes. The mechanism is designed based on the analysis of functional requirements, and distributed synthesis of the mechanism is adopted. The kinematics and statics of every configuration are discussed in detail, to obtain the most reasonable dimensions using the particle swarm optimization algorithm. The mechanism performance is simulated and verified using ADAMS software. Finally, an experimental prototype is constructed for preliminary tests.

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