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Volume 25 Issue 5/6 - Publication Date: 1 May/June 2006
Special Issue on the Ninth International Symposium on Experimental Robotics, 2004
 
Hybrid Control of the Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX)
 
H. Kazerooni, R. Steger, and L. Huang Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720 USA
 
The Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton is the first functional energetically autonomous load carrying human exoskeleton and was demonstrated at U.C. Berkeley, walking at the average speed of 0.9 m/s (2 mph) while carrying a 34 kg (75 lb) payload. The original published controller, called the BLEEX Sensitivity Amplification Controller, was based on positive feedback and was designed to increase the closed loop system sensitivity to its wearer's forces and torques without any direct measurement from the wearer. This controller was successful at allowing natural and unobstructed load support for the pilot. This article presents an improved control scheme we call "hybrid" BLEEX control that adds robustness to changing BLEEX backpack payload. The walking gait cycle is divided into stance control and swing control phases. Position control is used for the BLEEX stance leg (including the torso and backpack) and a sensitivity amplification controller is used for the swing leg. The controller is also designed to smoothly transition between these two schemes as the pilot walks. With hybrid control, the controller does not require a good model of the BLEEX torso and payload, which is difficult to obtain and subject to change as payload is added and removed. As a tradeoff, the position control used in this method requires the human to wear seven inclinometers to measure human limb and torso angles. These additional sensors require careful design to securely fasten them to the human and increase the time to don and doff BLEEX.
 
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