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Exoskeleton for paraplegics featuring Futek load cells

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article image Futek load cell in an exoskeleton application

Futek load cells were installed in actuators within powered exoskeletons to measure the torque applied by the actuator. Working in partnership with the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) on their latest exoskeleton, the Mina V2, Futek supplied several of their LCB200 load cells for this application that would provide paraplegics with gait mobility.

Spinal cord injuries (SCI) often leave the patient with little to no ability to ever walk again. IHMC sought to help SCI patients regain their mobility using a powered bionic exoskeleton suit that utilised power actuators strapped to their legs to move their hip, knee and ankle joints, allowing them to walk unassisted.

Futek provided the exoskeleton with LCB200 load cells, which were installed in specialised IHMC designed fixtures, enabling the system to receive accurate force feedback from the motors and closing the control loop, while allowing the sensor to safely rotate.

The Futek LCB200 load cell is installed in a specialised fixture attached to the motor, allowing it to rotate like a human joint, minimising extraneous loads, and providing accurate load data. As the motor operates, it applies force to the joint, rotating it. This force is then measured by the LCB200 in line rod end tension and compression load cell.

The mV/V signal from the LCB200 is sent to the IAA series analogue amplifiers or IDA100 digitally configurable amplifier. This amplified signal is then transmitted to the exoskeleton’s control system, using the amplified load cell output to close the loop and drive the exoskeleton’s motors.

The IDA100 amplifier output can be simultaneously monitored and adjusted on a Windows PC with Futek’s SENSIT software while providing high speed, amplified, analogue output.

Futek products used in the exoskeleton included six Futek LCB200 in line rod end tension and compression load cells paired with IAA series or IDA100 strain gauge amplifiers.

Futek Advanced Sensor Technology, Inc. is represented in Australia and New Zealand by Metromatics .

For further information, please visit the Metromatics website www.metromatics.com.au or call (07) 3868-4255.

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