Cable-driven exoskeletons add minimal inertia and restrictions to the user’s leg while still providing feedback and quantitative measures of the user’s performance. However, cable robots require at least n + 1 cables to control n degrees-of-freedom, i.e., they require more actuators than the leg’s degrees-of-freedom, challenging their widespread adoption as wearable technology. The state-of-the-art in this field aims to reduce the number of actuated motors.
In this paper, we design and evaluate a “single motor-driven” leg exoskeleton prototype based on the Cable-driven Active Leg EXoskleton (C-ALEX). The prototype consists of four crank-spring mechanisms and a crankshaft designed using epicycle analysis. The epicycle analysis is performed using discrete Fourier transform (DFT) and sine curve fitting (SCF). While DFT suggests the maximum number of epicycles to imitate the target waveform, a large number of nested epicycles is challenging to design and manufacture for implementation. To validate the epicycle-guided design, we constructed a simple crankshaft model using one epicycle. Our proposed simplified model predicted and produced the joint angles calculated from the inverse and forward kinematics of a cable-driven leg exoskeleton with multiple motors. To our knowledge, this is the first multi-cable driven exoskeleton powered by a single actuator that is designed to provide continuous assistance to the user.