Soft Exosuits for Walking Assistance


November 14, 2014


Dr. Alan T. Asbeck,

Research Scientist Harvard Biodesign Lab


Next generation wearable robots will use soft materials such as textiles to provide a more conformal, unobtrusive and compliant means to interface to the human body. These robots will augment the capabilities of healthy individuals (e.g. improved walking efficiency) in addition to assisting patients who suffer from physical or neurological disorders.  In this talk I present several soft exosuits that that can apply assistive joint torques to synergistically propel the wearer forward and provide support to minimize loading on the musculoskeletal system. Unlike traditional exoskeletons which contain rigid framing elements, soft exosuits are worn like clothing, yet can generate significant joint moments to assist with walking. As compared to traditional exoskeletons, exosuits have several advantages: the wearer's joints are unconstrained by external rigid structures, and the worn part of the suit is extremely light. These properties minimize the suit's unintentional interference with the body's natural biomechanics. I present the suit designs as well as some results from human subjects testing.