Posts Tagged ‘Exoskeleton’

1971 – A computer controlled multi-task powered exoskeleton for paraplegic patients – Jack George Grundmann / Ali Seireg (American)

University of Wisconsin-Madison Mechanical Engineering Professor Ali Seireg achieved worldwide recognition for his work in mechanical and biomedical engineering design. Among his advances, he was first to develop a mathematical model of the entire human musculoskeletal system that could predict the muscle and joint forces and interactions, given a motion input. In the early 1970s, he performed pioneering research on using powered exoskeletons to help disabled people rehabilitate and walk. Here are a few iterations of Seireg's "walking machines," and his demonstration of their use.

Ali Seireg was the supervising Professor, but the exoskeleton was built by Jack George Grundmann.

Source: The Wisconsin Engineer – Volume 77, Number 2 (November 1972)

Everyone Should Walk by Steve Sanborn
Caption: Jack Grundmann is shown above wearing the walking device he constructed under the guidance of Prof. Seireg of the Mechanical Engineering Department.
During the 1971 Engineering Exposition people on this campus were exposed for the first time to a walking device.  This device was a three legged robot powered by compressed air. Actually it was not a complete robot but only the walking portion, just the legs.
  The mechanism was constructed to be a model, a mechanical analog of a walking human. It could have been built with only two legs rather than three, but since it weighed 260 pounds it would have damaged easily if tipped over. The third leg provided extra stability.
  Since this original prototype was constructed, a new two legged model has been built. The new model differs considerably from the prototype in many respects. The two legged model is powered by AC current rather than compressed air. Unlike the prototype, the present model is actually worn by a human. This was the goal of the design project, to create a device that would give a person that was unable to use his legs, the ability to walk again. The project is by no means completed. More work has to be done in designing and constructing the third model. Presently Jack Grundmann is testing and altering the second model so as to incorporate new ideas into the third mechanism.
As was mentioned, the first prototype was operated with compressed air. This model was consequently bulky and awkward. Model II is operated by what is described as a puppet system. Cables extend from cams, located in a pack, down the body to the individual joints in which they control. The pack is mounted

Caption: Shown above is the original three legged walking machine.

Caption: This side view shows the long cables extending from the cams in the pack to the joints of the device.

on the shoulder of the person wearing the mechanism. Supports extend from the frame of the mechansim to the pack so that the heavy weight of the device is not felt by the wearer. Within the pack are the six cams that pull the cables causing the person to walk. These cams were designed to cause the joints to move almost exactly the way a normal human moves.
  Ultimately it is desired to make a system that will allow a person that can no longer use his legs to walk forward, backward, turn, sit, stand and walk up and down stairs. Also, the device should be cosmetic. This means that it should be possible to cover the mechanism and its suspension system with normal clothing apparel.
  Model II can only walk forward, Model III will be able to preform all these tasks. Model III will not be supported by bulky metal braces and tubes as were previous models. Instead, plastics and fiberglass will be incorporated as structural supports. To replace the bulky joints, electronic servo mechanisms will be employed. The use of electronics will allow a number of mini-programs to be place in a very small computer, carried by the person using the device. Each program would cause the mechanism to move, initating the motions a human makes. The programs would be turned on and off by the person wearing the device. There would be one program for each sequence of movements such as walking or for sitting.
  Very little has been done in the past three centuries in the area of prosthesis. The plastic leg of today is nothing more than an adaptation of the wooden leg of the seventeenth century. It is unfortunate that the technology of today has not been applied sooner to help paralized people walk again.
  This attempt at the University of Wisconsin College of Engineering requires the encouragement and support of all people concerned with restoring the ability to walk to those who can not.


Kaiser Chair of Mechanical Engineering Ali Seireg was best known for his research on biomechanics, or treating the human body as a machine. He taught in the College of Engineering for 31 years before his retirement in 1997 and maintained a presence on campus until his death in 2002. He authored seven books and more than 300 papers, edited two journals for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and created a “walking-machine” for paraplegics, which was exhibited at the Seattle World’s Fair and the History of Medicine and Science Museum in London. He was an award-winning educator and internationally recognized engineer.

See other early Teleoperators, Exoskeletons and Industrial Robots here.

1976 – Pneumatic Exoskeleton Prosthesis – Pierre Rabischong (French)

Revolutionizing Techniques of Orthosis and Prosthesis
Professor Pierre Rabischong of the Montpellier Propara Centre watches as a female patient and her physical therapist use a machine developed by Professor Rabischong. This machine allows the patient in rehabilitation to maintain her balance while inciting her muscles to move. The system functions according to the master-slave concept. The physical therapist makes the movements first and the machine transfers them to the patient's machine, who then follows.
Stock Photo ID: 42-17253903
Date Photographed: 01 September 1983
Credit: © Eric Preau/Sygma/Corbis

Figure 4.4.2.(2) Active modular orthesis for lower limbs (OMAMI) (Rabischong, INSERM, France, 1983): 1 and 2, potentiometers for the master orthesis, worn by the patient; 3 and 4, slave hydraulic actuators for the patient. Contention on the segments is ensured by the presence of inflatable pieces reinforced with strips of composite material (carbon fibre). The hydraulic system was produced by Renault, the orthesis by Aerazure. The kinematic walking model, developed by the Automation and Microelectronics Laboratory, Montpellier (LAMM) is intended to be used and to give the
patient greater autonomy. Photo courtesy of INSERM ASSISTED WALKING
Following on from the work of Tomovic the Yugoslav, Rabischong applied the problem of assistance to those with paralysis of the lower limbs using a motorized orthesis. His original idea (Rabischong et al., 1978; Hill, 1976-1) consisted of controlling the orthesis by unilateral positional servocontrol using two exoskeleton legs worn by the patient [see Figure 4.4.2.(2)]. The second version, currently being used experimentally, is hydraulically powered and was produced by Renault. This system is highly promising for training limbs; the extension towards autonomy on the basis of a kinematic computer model of walking is envisaged in the long term. The patient would use two walking sticks.

Source: Robot Technology – Vol 3a – Teleoperations and Robotics: Evolution and Development by  Jean Vertut and Philippe Coiffet, 1986.

Patent US3993056

Publication number    US3993056 A
Publication date    Nov 23, 1976
Filing date    Jan 21, 1976
Inventors    Pierre Rabischong, Jean Pierre Louis Bel
Original Assignee    Institut National De La Sante Et De La Recherche Medicale

An orthopaedic appliance which enables paralytics to stand erect has a fabric garment formed in separate pieces to be tightly wrapped around body parts located between joints the pieces having an inflatable support structures in the form of vertical tubes and devices connecting garment pieces located on opposite sides of a body joint in the form of a separate row of rigid parallel pins attached to the inflatable structure each garment piece and a pivot which can be hydraulically or otherwise driven, interconnecting the rows of pins. The inflatable tubes are located in elongate fabric sheaths and the pins are inserted in fabric sheaths defined between the tube sheaths so that when the tubes are inflated they clamp the pins between them.

See also later patent US4169467.

See other early Teleoperators, Exoskeletons and Industrial Robots here.

1991 – TOPS TeleOperator/telePresence System – Smith and Shimamoto (American)

TeleOperator/telePresence System / Concept Verification Model (CVM)

The TeleOperator/telePresence System/Concept Verification Model (TOPS/CVM)[34], was developed as the successor to the 'Greenman'. The TOPS/CVM consisted of a 3-DOF (degrees-of-freedom) head, a 3-DOF torso and a dexterous, force-reflective 9- DOF hand coupled to a force-reflective 7-DOF arm.

Fig. 1 TOPS from Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego
The operation of TOPS was described as follows:
"… The operator controls the hand/arm combination through an exoskeletal controller, while the torso and head motions are controlled by the operator's torso and head motions. …. … The viewing system provides 1023-line monochrome video to the TOPS/CVM operator and has a 70-degree field of view with full stereo overlap. … … The operator interface allows the TOPS/CVM operator to easily control all major TOPS/CVM functions and modes. This is done through the use of voice control and graphic overlay feedback. The second major interface, the supervisor interface, allows technical test personnel intimate access to all TOPS/CVM sensing and actuation systems."

For pdf see here.

1917 – “Pedomotor” Steam-Powered Running Device – Leslie C. Kelley (American)

Kelley invents the "Pedomotor", or power operated walking or running device to facilitate the operation of pedestrianism or running operation. The "Pedomotor" will provide relief of muscles utilized during the running operation, and to increase the speed of the person. Although any type of motive power can be applied, Kelley describes a small steam-engine to be worn on the persons back. Artificial ligaments parallel the main muscle ligaments and are directly connected to the motive power source.

See full patent here.


Patent number: 1308675
Filing date: Apr 24, 1917
Issue date: Jul 1, 1919


1934 – Wind-up Lower-extremity Walker – Cobb (American)

Cobb invents a walking structure that simulates the action of natural walking using mechanical means, typically for a person who has lost the use of their legs. Motive power is supplied by the operators arms driving a crank-wheel which in turn drives the legs in an oscillatory motion.  The same principles as applied to a doll are also described, but is powered by a clockwork motor.

See full patent here.


Patent number: 2010482
Filing date: May 26, 1934
Issue date: Aug 6, 1935